US ‘deeply troubled’ by poll blockades

The US is "deeply troubled" by anti-government protests that blocked advance general election voting on Sunday, according to a statement from the Department of State.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted that the US takes no sides in Thailand's ongoing political dispute.

She said that the US strongly supports freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest, but said preventing citizens from voting violates their universal rights and is inconsistent with democratic values.

Ms Psaki reiterated a call for all sides of the political divide to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and commit to sincere dialogue to resolve their differences peacefully and democratically.

The US stopped short of issuing a further travel alert to its citizens. Its latest notice was put out on Jan 21 after the government imposed a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The Department of State is urging US citizens to avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings.

Anti-government protests that blocked advance general election voting were meanwhile met with defiance by some. A clip published on YouTube by a user known as "wealthy" shows "a strong auntie" trying to pass protesters to get to a polling unit.

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