Thai military junta bans campaigns over upcoming referendum

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Bangkok, April 19 (IANS) Thailand’s military rulers have banned campaigning related to the constitutional referendum to be held on August 7, authorities said on Tuesday.

“You can like or dislike (the charter) but don’t express it (to the public), and keep it inside your head. Those wearing ‘Vote No’ or ‘Vote Yes’ shirts will have them taken off,” warned Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

Detractors of the measure said it is as anti-democratic as the Constitution, drafted by a commission formed by the military junta, which Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government will propose in the elections, EFE news reported.

The two main political forces in the country — former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s party, which has won all elections since 2001, and the Democrat Party, the oldest of all parties in Thailand — have rejected the draft constitutuion.

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On Monday, former lawmaker Watana Muangsook, an ally of Thaksin, was arrested by the military over a statement he posted on a social networking site against the draft Constitution.

The draft has been criticised for naming of the Senate by the military, the elimination of compulsory education, and a lack of clarity on how long the military will stay involved in politics.

Meanwhile, the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution has called on the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the Permanent Secretary for Defence, Preecha Chan-ocha, the brother of the prime minister.

Preecha allegedly secured an appointment for his 25-year-old son into the army.

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