Tough itinerary for UN poll-watchers

PATONG: A group of eight UN-affiliated election experts from around the world arrived this morning to observe tomorrow’s Senate election in Phuket.

Their program is a full one. This afternoon, the group observed the distribution of ballot sheets and other election materials as well as preparation of polling booths and vote-counting areas in Phuket’s three districts. Tonight they are due to take in the show at Phuket FantaSea.

They will have an early start tomorrow, being split into groups to watch proceedings when the polls open at 8 am.

At 10 am they will reassemble and be taken to observe voting at Phra Tong Temple in Thalang for one hour. They will then depart for Ta Dan Pier in Phang Nga, where they will take a boat to Koh Panyee, in Phang Nga Bay, for lunch from noon to 1:30 pm at the New First Restaurant. They will also take a look at voting on the island.

After the polls close on Koh Panyee at 3 pm, they will return to Phuket and take a swing by the One Tambon One Product sales center in Thalang.

The group will end their busy day of election observation, sightseeing and shopping by watching vote counting and collating in Gymnasium 3 at Saphan Hin.

After checking in to the Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa in Patong this morning, the eight attended a briefing with Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangura, Vice Governor Worapot Ratthasima, Phuket Election Commission head Dr Prapa Kayee and various officials involved in the election.

Gov Udomsak told the observers that he hoped that the election would go as smoothly as expected and that it would provide them with some insight into the Thai political system.

He added that he hoped members of the group would return to the island one day as tourists.

Later, he told members of the press that making the observers’ stay positive and comfortable would help boost the Thai Election Commission’s reputation abroad.

Phuket Election Commission head Dr Prapa Kayee said that she thought the observers had chosen Phuket to observe the Senate elections because it is “a famous province”.

“I think they will appreciate what they see during our election tomorrow,” she added.

The eight observers in Phuket are Michael Pratt, National Procurement Director of the Elections Branch of the Australian Electoral Commision’s National Office; Girawadee Khao-orn, a Program Officer from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Germany; Raajiv Yaduvanshi, Chief Electoral Officer of India’s Goa Election Commission; Mphasa Mokhochane, Deputy Director of Elections of the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission; Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad, Federal Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan; Hasan Brbil and Ahmet Baspinar, both from the Supreme Election Council of Turkey; and Suleman Chege, Deputy Commission Secretary of the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

UN-affiliated observers will watch polls in other parts of Thailand, too, including Khon Kaen and Nong Khai.

Phuket News

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