Live: Thailand Aug 7 constitutional referendum Schedule Dates Result, Thailand referendum , Thai Referendum latest updates,Thailand draft constitution
Voters in Thailand can be forgiven for having a sense of the familiar when they head to the polls on Aug. 7 for a referendum on a new constitution. They have been here before – a cycle that begins with elections, followed by accusations of corruption, political paralysis, military coups and then votes for a revised constitution.
- Thailand has voted to accept a military-backed constitution, according to preliminary results
- With 94 percent of the vote counted on Sunday, results from the Election Commission showed 61.4 percent of the country had voted for the charter, while 37.9 percent rejected it.
- Voter turnout was just over 50 percent.
- The gap is wide enough not to change the result," Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, chairman of the commission, told reporters after 90 percent of the vote count had been completed.
- Full results are due on Wednesday.
The Aug. 7 vote will give Thais the opportunity to pass proposed changes to the constitution that ask for greater power to the military. The revised constitution allows the ruling council that is backed by the military to appoint all 250 seats in the Upper House of Parliament. Such a proposal would ensure a military say in running Thailand's affairs.
Such proposals have heightened anxieties in Thailand. The country's economy is modestly recovering from a downturn that in part has been created by the 2014 military coup. A ban on campaigning and dissenting voices against the proposed constitution has drawn concern from human rights observers.
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LIVE UPDATES THAILAND REFERENDUM AUGUST 7TH 2016
Here's all what you need to know:
Thai voters will answer two yes/no questions on the ballot.
The first is whether voters accept the draft constitution.
The second is whether they would approve a junta-appointed upper house Senate to join members of parliament's lower house in electing a prime minister during a five-year transitional period from military rule.
The constitution would allow for an unelected prime minister in the event of political deadlock and a unelected senate appointed by the junta with seats reserved for military commanders to check the powers of elected lawmakers during the five-year transition period.
Provisions in the charter would legally oblige any future government to follow the military's 20-year national development plan and allows military allies to take legal action against any government which does not adhere to the plan.
Critics say the charter will give the military too much power over future elected governments and weaken their ability to govern. They say the constitution will do little to heal Thailand's bitter political divisions.
Experts say the referendum is also a vote on the legitimacy of military rule since a May 2014 coup.
For more than a decade, Thailand has been divided between rival camps, one is led by former populist premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a 2006 coup and later went into self-exile.
Ranged against his allies is the royalist and military establishment, which accuses Thaksin of poisoning politics with nepotism and corruption, charges he denies.
In May 2014, the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, was overthrown by the generals that formed the ruling junta, following months of street protests.
The government has been intent on preventing criticism of the draft charter, introducing a law that sets a 10-year jail term for campaigning ahead of the vote.
The junta itself, however, has used patriotic songs and television programmes to woo support.
Thailand's two biggest political parties have rejected the draft saying it is undemocratic.
Student activists, among the most vocal critics of the military government, have actively campaigned against the draft and more than a dozen have been detained.
The pro-Thaksin anti-government United Front For Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the "red shirt" group, have attempted to set up election monitoring centres which they said were to prevent fraud. The authorities shut them down and charged members of the group with breaking a junta ban on political gatherings of more than five people.
Public opinion in the run-up to the referendum has been difficult to gauge because of the ban on campaigning.
A one-sided information campaign by the junta has left the majority of Thais undecided about how to vote and liable to make impulsive decisions, a leading pollster said last week.
If the constitution is approved, the junta has promised a general election in 2017.
There are no guidelines as to what would happen if the draft is rejected. The government has said it will meet on Aug. 9, two days after the referendum, to decide the next steps.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said regardless of the referendum outcome he would not resign and the general election will take place in 2017. (Compiled by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Lincoln Feast)