Police vow safe Senate poll

Police are to deploy up to 100,000 officers to prevent the upcoming Senate election from being disrupted by protesters.

Following disruptions to the Feb 2 general election, in which balloting in many constituencies was blocked, the Royal Thai Police Office has vowed not to allow a repeat performance in the Senate advance voting on March 23 and in the March 30 election itself.

Tarit Pengdith, a member of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), said the agency is prosecuting hundreds of suspects accused of disrupting the Feb 2 election.

Police have worked out plans to ensure a smooth election for both Senate candidates and eligible voters, he said.

Police will be stationed at the ballot printing venue, ballot paper storage facilities and at polling stations. The officers would go there at the request of the Election Commission, Mr Tarit said.

The six-year term of the current elected senators ended on March 2.

This kick-started the election for 77 new senators who will work alongside 73 appointed senators.

There are 457 candidates competing in the election, which requires one elected senator from each of the country's 77 provinces.

Registration of candidates went smoothly without any opposition by People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters.

The anti-government group blocked the Feb 2 election to demand national reform before the polls took place.

The PDRC anti-election campaign succeeded in preventing candidate registration in 28 southern constituencies.

The CMPO says attempts to block the Senate election will be regarded as a serious offence, said Mr Tarit, who is also the Department of Special Investigation chief.

The Royal Thai Police Office has told the CMPO there are a 341 election law violation cases pending.

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