General elections set for December 23
Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – December 23rd next general elections will be held in Thailand. It was announced yesterday by the Election Commission (EC) chairman Apichart Sukhagganond, after consultations with interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont. Democratic elections had been promised by the provisional government, backed by the military, which governs the country in the wake of a state coup in September 2006. The EC asked the government for 1.9 billion baht (circa 57.75 million dollars) to organise the ballot.
The announcement came just one week after the approval of the new Constitution – which however was also fraught with controversy. A member of the EC, Sodsri Satayathum, has criticised Surayud and Apichart for having fixed on an election date without consulting other political parties. She also underlined that the previous EC had done likewise in the April 2006 elections, which the Constitutional Court – dissolved by the coup – later annulled.
The premier has declared that the vote will enable the current government to hand over power to a government elected by popular consensus with the job of resolving the economic crises and maintaining national unity. However regarding the issue of martial law still in vigour in many provinces in the North and north east of the country being cancelled to allow free and fair elections for all, the premier declined to answer.
As soon as draft laws are approved the decree for elections will be presented to the king and public by October at the latest, published in the royal Gazette.