Thai premier rejects EU’s proposal to monitor elections

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Thai premier rejects EU’s proposal to monitor elections

© AP

2007-08-29 13:01:59 –

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Thailand’s military-appointed prime minister said Wednesday he opposed a proposal by the European Union to monitor the upcoming general election, which would be the first since a coup ousted disgraced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last year.
The EU had proposed signing a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s official Election Commission to

take part in independent monitoring of the polls, slated for Dec. 23. But the commission Tuesday rejected the EU proposal, and interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said he agreed with its decision.

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party, which won landslide election victories in 2001 and 2005, will not take part in the polls, because it was dissolved by court order in May for electoral fraud committed last year. More than 100 of its top members, including Thaksin, have been banned from politics.
But many supporters of the former leader, now in exile, have gathered under the auspices of another party, the People’s Power Party, posing the prospect of a comeback that would be unwelcome by those who overthrew Thaksin, who was accused of corruption and abuse of power.

«There are two kinds of monitoring the situation. One is to observe and another one is to control. The MoU that they asked us to sign would have more a controlling nature rather than an observing one,» Surayud told reporters.

«It is up to the Election Commission to decide who should be sent to monitor and on what level. We apply Thai laws and do not want others to have more authority than our own (election) officials,» he said
Election Commissioner Aphichart Sukhagganond said Tuesday that the EU’s proposed terms would have let it operate completely independently in a manner that could interfere with the work of election officials.

Political temperatures are expected to rise as parties prepare for the election.

Thailand on Aug. 19 held a national referendum that approved a new constitution, clearing the way for the new polls. The military, which is the power behind the interim government, had strongly backed the proposed charter, and was accused by critics of unfairly managing the vote.

The results of the constitution referendum, while approving the new charter, also registered a strong «no» vote, which has been interpreted as showing continuing support for Thaksin.

Thaksin, a billionaire who made his fortune in telecommunications, was abroad at the time of the bloodless September 2006 coup, and remains in exile. He faces several legal cases in Thailand on corruption charges, and has said he will not return before the election.

The Earthtimes

Thailand allows EU to observe next election, with conditions

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 05:55:04 GMT

Bangkok – Thailand has agreed to allow the European Union to observe its general election scheduled on December 23 but has refused to sign a memorandum of understanding on the diplomatically sensitive issue, officials said Wednesday. Election Commissioner Apichart Sukhagganond agreed Tuesday to allow EU representatives to observe the December 23 polls but said signing a MOU on the matter would be tantamount to ceding over the country’s sovereignty.

“This could set a precedent for other countries to ask for the same thing,” said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charunvat. “And it’s not like this is the first election we have held. I think we are quite experienced because we hold many elections.”

The EU’s ambassador to Thailand, Friedrich Hamburger, will meet with the Election Commission on September 7 to discuss the terms and conditions for setting up a polls monitoring mission with or without a MOU, sources said.

“We can’t just turn up at the airport and start doing it,” said an EU official, who asked to remain anonymous.

The EU has sent missions to monitor elections in Cambodia and Indonesia but this will be the first time it has done so in Thailand.

The EU has asked permission to observe Thailand’s next election to assure the international community that the polls are conducted freely and fairly despite Thailand’s current political circumstances.

Thailand has been under a non-elected government since September 19, 2006, after the military staged a coup to oust former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his cabinet.

The EU was critical of the coup and called on Thailand to hold an election to restore democracy as soon as possible.

The junta that staged the coup promised to return power to the people within a year, and on Monday set an election date for December 23.


Thailand to allow EU to observe election, but no “control” 2007-08-29 18:10:45

    BANGKOK, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Thailand would let the European Union (EU) to observe Thailand’s general election, slated for Dec.23, but Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont rejected to sign a MOU with the EU, which he said would allow the latter to “control” the election in his country, local media reported Wednesday.

    According to a report posted on the website of Bangkok Post, Surayud said Wednesday that he had discussed with Election Commission (EC) chairman Apichart Sukhakkhanont about the EU proposal that it send officials to monitoring the election.

    Surayud said he and Apichart discussed the form in which the EU will be allowed to monitor Thailand’s election — whether to observe or to control the polls.

    “Signing the MOU means that they will control the election, which he (EC chairman) also disagreed,” Surayud was quoted as saying. He added that EC has formally informed the EU on the matter.

    Surayud’s remarks came after EC commissioner Sodsri Sattayathamrevealed that a delegation of 120 EU representatives will be in Thailand to observe the poll.

    The prime minister also reiterated that Dec. 23 would be the best date to hold the general election, which is considered as a crucial step to “restore democracy” to Thailand.

    On Sep. 19 last year, the military launched a coup to oust the elected government led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatraand installed the Surayud-led interim government.

    Some critics had suggested inviting international watchdog to observe the polls to ensure the credibility of the results.



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