Yingluck: Junta poll win a step back­ward

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A REF­ER­EN­DUM vic­tory for Thai­land’s rul­ing gen­er­als over a new con­sti­tu­tion is a “back­wards” step for the coun­try, the top­pled ex-prime min­is­ter said as the democ­racy move­ment reels from its first polls de­feat in a decade.

The bit­terly di­vided king­dom has been ruled by a junta for two years since Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra’s gov­ern­ment was booted from of­fice.

The ma­jor­ity “yes” vote in sup­port of the char­ter was the first test of public opin­ion since the 2014 coup, al­though in­de­pen­dent cam­paign­ing and open de­bate was sti­fled ahead of the polls.

The draft was heav­ily crit­i­cised in the run-up to the poll, for clauses that em­bed mil­i­tary power and strait­jacket the role of elected of­fi­cials.

But the Au­gust 7 vote lends le­git­i­macy to a junta that says it alone can sta­bilise Thai­land and detox­ify pol­i­tics af­ter a decade of tur­moil.

Unofficial re­sults re­leased by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion showed 61.4 per­cent of the coun­try backed the doc­u­ment, with 38.6pc vot­ing “no”. At un­der 55pc, turnout was mod­est.

But it was enough to land a ham­mer blow on the na­tion’s pro-democ­racy move­ment, which since 2006 has been winded by two coups, court rul­ings and a bloody mil­i­tary crack­down.

“With this new con­sti­tu­tion in place, the coun­try has moved back­wards and away from the path to­wards democ­racy,” Ms Yingluck said in Bangkok.

The vote was “not up to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards be­cause it was not free and fair”, she added.

In Washington, the United States ex­pressed con­cern af­ter Thai­land ap­proved the new mil­i­tary-backed con­sti­tu­tion in a vic­tory for the coun­try’s rul­ing gen­er­als.

US State De­part­ment spokesper­son El­iz­a­beth Trudeau said the US re­mains “con­cerned that the draft­ing process for the con­sti­tu­tion was not in­clu­sive, that open de­bate was not per­mit­ted in the run up to its adop­tion”.

“We urge Thai au­thor­i­ties to pro­ceed with next steps to re­turn Thai­land to elected civil­ian-led gov­ern­ment as soon as pos­si­ble,” she said.

Photo: AFP

Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra has crit­i­cised Thai­land’s new con­sti­tu­tion.

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