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Thai protesters step up campaign to disrupt elections

BANGKOK -- Thai opposition protesters on Monday stepped up their campaign to disrupt upcoming elections, trying to block candidate registrations as part of efforts to banish Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family from politics.

The main opposition Democrat Party, which has not won an elected majority in parliament in about two decades, has vowed to boycott the Feb. 2 polls called by Yingluck following weeks of street rallies by her opponents.

It is the latest chapter in a years-old political crisis which broadly pits a Bangkok-based elite against mostly rural and poor supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a divisive former premier who was ousted in a coup in 2006.

Hundreds of demonstrators on Monday surrounded a stadium in Bangkok where representatives of political parties were trying to register to run in the polls ahead of the Dec. 27 deadline.

Nine parties, including Yingluck's Puea Thai, managed to enter although officials were unable to fully complete their registration, according to the country's Election Commission.

About two-dozen parties filed complaints with the police because they were prevented from entering.

But it appeared to be only a temporary setback with the election authorities expressing confidence that the parties would be able to register in time.

β€œFor those parties that cannot enter the stadium we will contact them and made appointments for them to submit documents,” Election Commissioner Dhirawat Dhirarojvit told AFP.

Puea Thai party said that Yingluck was on top of the party's list of candidates β€” a position that would usually make her Puea Thai's pick for prime minister if it wins the polls.

Her candidacy is certain to anger the demonstrators, who want to rid Thai politics of the influence of her brother Thaksin β€” a billionaire tycoon turned premier whom protesters accuse of controlling the government from his home in Dubai.

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Anti-government protesters wave Thai national flags during a rally at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Dec. 23. (AP)

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