No 'election scouts' in South

KRABI - The Election Commission (EC) has scrapped a plan to use specially trained boy and girl scouts to help staff on polling day in southern provinces amid safety reasons.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the agency had concluded that there could be violence on the voting day in the provinces where candidacy registrations were cancelled after anti-government protesters blocked registration venues.

The provinces in question are Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Krabi, Trang, Songkhla, Phuket and Phatthalung.

Advance voting is scheduled to take place on Sunday and the general election is scheduled for Feb 2.

But the election is now uncertain after the Counstitution Court ruled on Friday that it could legally be put off. The decision on whether to delay the poll now rests with the EC and caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, it added.

Sompong Tungrerk, the EC chief in Krabi, said he would not use the young scouts at polling places because he did not want to put them at risk.

He said teachers and parents in the province had said they did not want their students and children to get involved in the poll as they believed conflicts would break out.

The EC has set up a training programme for boy and girl scouts across the country to give them opportunities to learn practical lessons about democracy.

"The Election Commission wants children to see the positive things about democracy, not get them to watch opposing groups fight," said Mr Sompong.

Sombat Sitthibut, the acting EC director of Nakhon Si Thammarat, said the office had begun training 160 scouts in the province. As the political situation intensified, their mothers no longer allowed them to participate and forced the training to be scrapped, he said.

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