New Constitution for Thailand

Thailand’s first-ever referendum, held Aug. 19, endorsed a new military-backed constitution for the kingdom, according to The Bangkok Post and other news sources, which indicated the nationwide vote was no landslide victory.

Some 57.8 percent voted in favor of adopting the new constitution, according to Ireland’s RTÉ News, which carried a story topped by the headline: “Coup Leaders Backed by Vote in Thailand.”

“The new charter prevents a repeat of the powerful single-party style of government that ruled under ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra,” according to RTÉ.

The RTÉ story did, however, note that “the 42.2% who rejected [the new constitution] could be a deciding force in the upcoming general election, especially in Thaksin’s stronghold areas like the rural north-east.”

A story in The London Times explained that the vote was “the first to be held since tanks took to the streets of Bangkok last September” and Mr. Thaksin was ousted by a bloodless military coup.

“Before the vote the Government had said that if the constitution was rejected the process of getting back to democracy would be delayed,” The Times reported. “But they had promised to quickly hold a general election if it was passed, which is now expected in December.”

The RTÉ story also included a nifty “Inside Thailand’s New Constitution” section, replete with a few explanations of the document’s changes and terms, such as the inclusion of a blanket amnesty to the military officers who launched last year’s coup against Thaksin, and a stipulation that a prime minister cannot serve for more than eight consecutive years.

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