No foreign observers allowed to monitor Thai charter referendum

No foreign observers will be allowed to monitor the upcoming referendum on Thailand's new military-drafted constitution, the government said Wednesday.

No other country in the world would allow such a step to happen, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters late Tuesday.

Prayuth also said that there should be no public discussion ahead of the August 7 poll, because the referendum rules are not clear about what discussions are appropriate.

Also Wednesday, Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn filed charges against members of a Facebook group that had criticized the draft constitution.

Somchai told reporters that the charges were filed because the group had used "aggressive language" and attempted to sway the public opinion against the draft charter.

"We want this case to serve as a lesson, when people talk about the constitution they must use logic and reason," he said.

The charges were filed under the Public Referendum Act, enacted on Friday, which forbids campaigning either for or against the draft constitution.

Those found in violation of the law could face up to 10 years in prison.

The junta unveiled the draft in March, which critics and politicians have blasted as undemocratic.

Among the most contentious parts are a new senate appointed by the military, and a contingency for a prime minister to be selected by the legislature from outside the ranks of elected officials.

The junta says that if the draft is approved in the referendum, elections could happen as early as September 2017.

But it has warned that if the charter is rejected, the next attempt would not include any public consultation.

Last update: Wed, 27/04/2016 - 11:00

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