After corrupt poll, Thailand tries again

BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand will make a second attempt Saturday to fill its upper house of parliament after a first round of voting under a new anti-corruption constitution was tainted by rampant vote buying. Twenty-six million voters will be called out in 35 provinces where winning candidates in the March 4 Senate polls were disqualified for cheating. But doubt has already surfaced over the probity of the polls, which have been dogged by the same accusations of vote-buying and fraud that have stained Thai democracy for years. Initial signs have not been promising. Signs of fraud have emerged in many districts and election commissioners say a flood of complaints from the public are already under investigation. The March 4 polls were the first to be held under a new constitution introduced in an effort to cleanse Thai politics. They were an attempt to bring a new, educated and clean political class into the top echelons of Thai politics. Many of the 122 senators who were elected and accepted by the commission are university teachers, social workers or lawyers. In the first corruption conviction related to the elections, Chusak Traisrisin, a candidate from Chiang Rai, was found guilty today of handing out tickets to an athletics event in return for votes. He was jailed for two years. Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jurin Laksanavisit has promised that Saturday’s re-run elections will be repeated again and again if corruption continues. Eventually, 200 representatives will be installed in the Senate, which will wield new powers to examine legislation and impeach individual MPs, ministers, or the government as a whole.

Phuket News

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