Military backed Thailand draft constitution approved in referendum

Around 50.5 million Thais out of the total population of 65 million are eligible to vote in this referendum on two questions on their ballots.


The majority of voters across Thailand approved a junta-backed new draft constitution and an additional question in Sunday’s referendum, paving the way for the formation of a civilian government supported by the military.

The voter turnout in the referendum reached over 50 percent, according to Thai officials.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ith 91 percent of the ballots counted, 62 percent of voters across the country approved the 2016 draft constitution, while about 38 percent voted against it, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, chairman of the Election Commission, told reporters.

Nearly 58 percent had voted in favor of the additional question while 42 percent countered it, he added.

“The gap is wide enough not to change the result,” said Srisutthiyakorn.

Around 50.5 million Thais out of the total population of 65 million are eligible to vote in this referendum on two questions on their ballots, the first one on their opinion on the constitution, and the second on whether they wanted 250 senators picked by the current junta, or the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to have power to elect a prime minister along with 500 elected members of House of Representatives.

The 105-page draft constitution consists of 16 charters and the Transitory Provisions, or 279 sections. Though it contains strong provisions on healthcare and education, people have different opinions regarding its contents about the national assembly, the election of a new prime minister, the constitutional court, and anti-corruption mechanism.

The draft constitution was always said to be an anti-corruption basic law by its supporters as it bans any political corruption and bestows great power upon a nine-member National Counter-Corruption Commission.

However, its mechanism to combat corruption attacks both the Pheu Thai Party and prominent figures from the Democrat Party.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Pheu Thai party made several criticisms on the draft constitution, such as too much curtailment of administrative officials and too much power bestowed upon the Constitutional Court and any independent organizations, the possible generation of a multiparty government which is not stable enough to run the country, and a nearly impossible amendment of the constitution, adding that it is also unfair that the draft exempts the NCPO from any punishments.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, former prime minister and current leader of the Democrat Party, said the draft constitution has big defects in combating corruption, adding that it cannot help ease political and social conflicts and it triggers even more serious conflicts, primarily due to the lessened roles of the elected politicians.

Prayut Chan-o-cha, current Thai prime minister and leader of the NCPO, said on Friday that he would vote yes to both questions.

Suthep Thaugsuban, who led the protest against Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party government from 2013 to 2014 that paved the way for the 2014 coup, expressed his strong support to the draft constitution and said it will help to reform the country.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he referendum is the second ever in Thai history, following the first in 2007. The Election Commission set a goal of 80 percent turnout, compared with the 57.61 percent turnout in 2007.

Thailand has endured 13 successful military coups and 11 attempted takeovers since a constitutional monarchy replaced an absolute one in 1932. If adopted, the constitution in question will become the 20th constitution of Thailand.

A general election will be held in 2017 following the approval of the constitution, Prayut said.

Notes: Xinhua-(This story has not been edited by and is generated from a syndicated feed we subscribe to)


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