I CAN SCRATCH THAILAND OFF MY BUCKET LIST….
Thailand’s Election Commission announced that 61.5 percent of voters had backed the new constitution in Sunday’s referendum, while 38.4 percent had rejected it.
The charter, drawn up by the junta, would lay the foundation for a civilian government influenced by the military and controlled by officials who have been appointed rather than elected.
The referendum was widely seen as a test for the popularity of the military government led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a retired army general who came to power in a 2014 coup.
Some 50 million people were registered to cast ballots in Sunday’s poll – the first time Thais have been able to vote since the coup. Voting stations closed at 5 p.m. local time (1000 UTC), and more concrete results were expected later in the day.
Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said turnout was only 55 percent.
The leadup to the vote was marred by widespread international criticism over bans on campaigning and at least 195 related arrests. Opponents, including the country’s major political parties, say the constitution will tighten the military’s grip on power. The Military, for its part, says the new document will curb political corruption and bring stability to the country.
The charter’s most divisive clauses call for a junta-appointed Senate to check elected parliamentarians, and increased powers for Thai courts, already accused of political bias.
Another clause would make it easier to begin impeachment proceedings.