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 Thailand calls general elections for November

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PostSubject: Thailand calls general elections for November   Wed 20 Jun - 4:19

BANGKOK - Thailand will hold general elections on November 25 in a bid to restore democracy in the kingdom following last year's coup, the chairman of the country's election commission said Wednesday.

The polls will be preceded by a referendum on August 19 on the new constitution, which was drafted by a body appointed by the ruling Council for National Security (CNS) that seized power last September, commission chair Apichart Sukhagganond said.

"The election will be held on November 25, which we have carefully considered," he told reporters after meeting army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

"According to the chairman of the constitution drafting assembly, the final draft constitution will be ready by July 6, and the referendum will be held on August 19," he added.

Surayud said earlier this week that the referendum and elections could be brought forward, noting that early polls were "a key concern of people outside Thailand."

The international community has repeatedly urged the military-installed government to bring forward elections, which were originally scheduled for December this year.

Exactly who will stand in the polls remains unclear after Thai Rak Thai (TRT), the popular party formed by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was dissolved three weeks ago over vote fraud violations.

The military-appointed Constitutional Tribunal also banned 111 senior TRT members from politics for five years, and the parliament has not yet passed a new law which would allow members of TRT to register a new party.

Their rival Democrat Party, however, escaped similar charges and would be able to stand in upcoming elections.

TRT have also said that they will urge millions of their supporters to vote against the constitution unless key changes are made to the charter. - AFP/ir

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