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Turbulent Thailand

Fervid candidates turn Thai election registration into carnival

Contenders change their names and don costumes to rally voters

BANGKOK -- Over a dozen candidates contesting in the upcoming Thai general elections have changed their names to Thaksin and Yingluck in the hopes of garnering votes by aligning themselves with the popular Shinawatra siblings who previously served as prime ministers.

In a strange development, 15 members of Pheu Chart Party, with links to the powerful Shinawatra family, came up with the idea to legally change their names to appeal to voters. Registration for the March 24 elections started on Monday and will end on Friday. Thailand's first election in eight years is an attempt to reestablish democracy after military rule and its legitimacy will be closely watched by the international community.

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