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ANFREL: Peaceful and orderly Thai election

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.16

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The Asian Network for Free Elections, which deployed more than 60 long- and short-term observers from 20 countries throughout Thailand to observe the July 3 parliamentary election, hailed the conduct of the election as peaceful and orderly. In a statement, ANFREL chair and Head of Mission Damaso G. Magbual said, “The election period, in particular Election Day on July 3rd, was managed well and without any major incident which would call into question the election’s results. Where problems and complaints exist, ANFREL encourages the ECT (Election Commission of Thailand) and all involved stakeholders to thoroughly investigate these cases and administer justice in a professional, objective, and timely manner.” ANFREL also said that the ECT "performed admirably to manage a process that has produced election results that generally seem to reflect the will of the people." The Thai military generally acted professionally and neutrally throughout the election period, according to ANFREL, and it also commended Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Democrat Party for accepting the election results and conceding defeat to the Pheu Thai party. The party's standard bearer, Yingluck Shinawatra (sister of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra) emerged victorious after the polls.

ANFREL, however, decried the numerous allegations of vote buying, as well as incidences of electoral violence and intimidation. "Vote buying and the detrimental effect of money politics remains a long term challenge for Thailand," according to ANFREL.
 
The organization also called attention to the use of 2007's non-resident advance voter list as basis for this year's advance voting, held on June 26. The use of the old list, as well as the ECT's failure to sufficiently inform voters of the need to reregister, "disenfranchised between 500,000 and 1 million people." According to ANFREL, the ECT also printed too many excess ballots (12% instead of the law-mandated 7%) and was unable to sufficiently explain why. ANFREL observers also noted that village leaders (phuyaibahn) worked or congregated at polling stations on election day. “In many countries within Asia, village chiefs are kept from working at polling stations because the enormous influence they command can unfairly sway voters,” explained Mr. Magbual. They also observed that many phuyaibahns compromised neutrality by working for political parties.

ANFREL also noted the lack of local observers and party agents in the polling stations, and encouraged political parties "to play a more active and constructive role in strengthening the democratic process by engaging in more observation during the elections."

Read ANFREL's Press statement here: http://bit.ly/oiG8Y9
Read ANFREL's Preliminary report (with recommendations) here: http://bit.ly/pL3Wwe
 
 
 
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