Regional Group to Send Election Observers to Thailand

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 7:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The Asian Network for Free Elections says it is sending a group of international observers to Thailand to monitor preparations for the country's July 3 election.

The regional civil society network said Monday it will send 60 observers from more than 20 countries to all of Thailand's regions to help ensure orderly election campaigns. The first group is to leave for Thailand Tuesday.

The head of the observer mission, Ichal Supriadi, said in Thailand's past elections there have been incidences of blatant vote-buying. There are also concerns about electoral violence and voter intimidation.

The Bangkok Post daily reported that the observers will stay in Thailand until July 5 and will present a preliminary report on their findings regarding the polls.

The upcoming election will pit Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democratic party against the main opposition Puea Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, a sister of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand remains deeply divided after last year's massive protests by the opposition, known as the “Red Shirts.” At least 90 people were killed and about 1,900 others were injured in the clashes between protesters and security troops.

Most of the Red-Shirt protesters support Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

Mr. Thaksin lives in exile and faces a prison sentence in Thailand. He has been addressing his supporters via video links from other countries.

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) was established in 1997 as Asia's first regional network of civil society organizations. It strives to promote democratization at national and regional levels in Asia.