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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Observers Report Vote-Buying in Thailandís Elections

BANGKOK Ė The Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-Net) denounced on Monday the buying of votes and the lack of transparency in Thailandís elections held on March 24 after almost five years of rule by the military junta.

In a statement, P-Net said that some candidates and parties had bought votes during rallies and on the night before the elections in many areas, especially in northern, central and northeast Thailand.

P-Net, which deployed observers in 63 provinces, said that the elections were not honest, fair and independent enough to reform the country.

Sudarat Keyuraphan, chief candidate of the Puea Thai anti-junta party, said at a press conference that her party was gathering allegations of irregularities and that she would act according to the law.

Sudarat, who claims to have won a majority of the seats even before the Election Commissionís announcement of the preliminary results, said that she would accept the vote count and would not use the alleged irregularities to try to challenge the elections.

The Asian Network for Free Elections reported that it has not detected irregularities although it was able to deploy only 34 observers.

No mission of international observers was present at the elections and in the case of the European Union, which was not invited, decided to deploy some diplomats who carried out partial supervision for internal use.

Four UN teams toured 136 polling stations in 33 districts in the Bangkok metropolitan area to evaluate respect for rights such as freedom of expression and access, although without the intention of preparing a report.

Some 51 million Thais were eligible to vote in these elections, the first in Thailand since the coup of May 2014 led by General Prayut Chan-ocha, the current prime minister and head of the Palang Pracharath Party.

During its rule, the military junta drafted a new constitution, approved under the promise of providing stability to the country and preventing a potential stalemate in parliament, but which also gives the military establishment powers to nominate all 250 members of the senate (the upper house) for a five-year term.

According to the Election Commission, there was a voter turnout of 66 percent, while the number of invalid votes reached 1.9 million.

 

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