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Thailand's early voting kicks off with crowds, long lines

AFP  |  Bangkok 

Hundreds of thousands of voters crowded into schools, parking lots and across on Sunday, eager to cast an early a week before the country's first election in eight years.

Advanced voting is usually a tepid affair, but on Sunday excitement was high as voters turned up in droves to polling stations.

More than 2.3 million Thais are expected to vote before the official March 24 poll date.

Since a 2014 coup ousted then-Yingluck Shinawatra, the junta has repeatedly postponed democratic -- much to the chagrin of the Thai public.

"I finally have a chance to cast my vote as I've waited for so long," said 48-year-old as she stood in line in front of Bangkok's district office.

In district -- home to military offices and government buildings -- voters crowded in a school yard before a polling station there opened.

People dressed in their work clothes -- military uniforms, hospital scrubs and more casual attire -- waited patiently to cast their ballot, aided by student helpers.

At 9 am Prem Tinsulanonda, the of the -- the advisory board to Thai -- arrived at the school.

Watched by Thai and international media, the 98-year-old was pushed in a wheelchair into a classroom boasting a portrait of the late Bhumibol, who he advised, before walking the final steps to a polling booth.

More than 51 million Thais are eligible to vote in the official March 24 election, which will be held under a new military-scripted constitution.

Analysts say the new electoral system favours the army-aligned party fronted by Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who is running to be after a government is formed.

But voters on Sunday still held on to hopes for change.

"I vote today in the hope for better change," said Mart Bupa, 53.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 17 2019. 11:40 IST