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Thai Protesters Fail to Obstruct Election Registration

FILE - Anti-government protesters carry placards during a mass rally outside the house of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok, Dec. 22, 2013.
Thousands of anti-government protesters in Thailand failed to block access to an election registration center in Bangkok Monday in an effort to prevent parties from registering for an upcoming general election.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban vowed on Sunday to disrupt the February 2 election. He began by mobilizing protesters to blockade the Thai-Japanese Stadium, where registrations are scheduled to run from Monday through Friday.

Some parties managed to evade protesters, arriving well before sunrise to ensure they could take part. But several dozen other party leaders and supporters who were turned away by protesters retreated to a nearby police station where they were allowed to register.

Prasaeng Mongkonsiri, advisor to the newly registered Democratic Force Party, said three gunshots had been fired into the third floor of the station while 100 people were inside. No one was reported injured, but electricity and water to the building had been cut.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament on December 9 and called the snap election to try to end mass street protests. She says after the election, a national reform council will be set up to work towards widespread reforms, but protesters say they want reforms before polling begins.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters brought central Bangkok to a halt Sunday. Street protesters have been demanding for weeks that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck step down before the elections.

The main opposition Democrat Party has announced a boycott of elections until reforms are implemented.