Coup Leader Heads Thai Poll Panel


October 17, 2007 1:11 p.m. EST


John Concepcion – AHN News Writer

Bangkok, Thailand (AHN) – The military-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont appointed Thailand’s coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin to head a new panel organized to keep the elections this December as clean as possible.

The announcement was made by the cabinet on Wednesday. It said Sonthi’s appointment to the post is to ensure that fraud will not attend the coming general elections, which has been called to restore democracy in the country.

Surayud said the panel will examine and report poll fraud cases to the Election Commission.

In an interview with reporters, Sonthi said, “I am studying strategies to make sure the elections free.”

It was Sonthi who ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup in September last year. He has made pronouncements that Thaksin’s supporters are free to participate in the elections.

Sonthi said, “People are free to vote and make their own choice in a democracy.”

Two days after Sonthi retired from the army and resigned as head of Thailand’s junta, he was named as a deputy prime minister by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Sonthi however has not ruled out any possibility that he may run for office.

The general elections are scheduled on December 23, which is still subject to the approval of the king.



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