U.S. Concerned About Thai Constitution, Elections Timetable


    U.S. Concerned About Thai Constitution, Elections Timetable
    (White House calls for clear, unambiguous protection of civil liberties) (370)

    By Peggy B. Hu

    Washington File Staff Writer

    Washington — The United States notes the appointment of an
    interim prime minister and the release of a draft constitution
    following the September 19 coup in Thailand but remains concerned by
    restrictions on civil liberties and the proposed timetable for
    elections, the White House says.

    “We remain concerned by restrictions on civil liberties,
    provisions in the draft constitution that appear to give the military
    an ongoing and influential role in decisionmaking, and the lengthy
    timetable for democratic elections,” deputy press secretary Dana Perino
    said October 3.

    The Thai military, which ousted Prime Minister Thaksin
    Shinawatra and his government, has imposed restrictions on freedom of
    expression, both in terms of political gatherings and media. The
    military also has said that elections — originally scheduled for
    November 2006 — would be delayed until October 2007. (See related
    article (

    “We call for clear and unambiguous protection for civil
    liberties by the interim authorities and the military, and a quick
    return to democratic elections,” Perino said. “Thailand’s image in the
    eyes of the world and U.S.-Thai relations will suffer until Thailand
    returns to its place as a democratic leader in Asia.”

    The military coup already has had a negative effect on U.S. aid to Thailand.

    On September 28, the United States suspended nearly $24 million
    worth of assistance to the Thai government for programs such as
    military financing, military training and peacekeeping operations. (See
    related article (

    Under Section 508 of the Foreign Operations Act for Fiscal Year
    2006, the United States may not use appropriated funds to finance
    directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly
    elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree, with
    the exception of assistance to promote democratic elections or public
    participation in democratic processes.

    The legislation permits the resumption of U.S. assistance when
    the president determines and certifies to the Committees on
    Appropriations of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
    that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically
    elected government has taken office.

    For more information on U.S. policy, see Democracy (
    http://usinfo.state.gov/dhr/democracy.html ) and East Asia and the
    Pacific ( http://usinfo.state.gov/eap/ ).

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
    Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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