ANFREL Calls for Peaceful Free & Fair Elections in Thailand
The run up to the July 3 election, marred by reports of violence from different parts of the country, has become a cause of concern for everyone.
There have been several reports of violence from Samut Prakan under Phra Pradaeng district as well as from other provinces. The stabbing death of a Pheu Thai party canvasser in Pattani, the shooting death of the Lop Buri Provincial Administrator in broad daylight on June 15 near Khao San road in Bangkok, the killing of a Democratic party canvasser in Yala province on June 20, and other incidents in the last two weeks are indeed not conducive to a clean and free election process.
International observers are of the opinion that much of the violence is politically motivated; beginning with election campaigning after candidates began visiting their constituents. Incidents of violence, threats and intimidation are raising serious questions about the freedom of movement and the lack of a free campaign atmosphere.
Last month the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) together with other local organizations had launched a pledging ceremony at the Thai Parliament to call for a six-point code of conduct during the elections. As many as 18 political parties were signatory to the pledge, which was unveiled in front of religious leaders and diplomats. Party representatives specifically promised to direct all their candidates and supporters to maintain a nonviolent approach for the election campaign.
In this context and considering that the pre-election phase has been already tainted by violence, ANFREL would like to reiterate the fact that all contesting political parties should honor the pledge and create space for healthy participation for everyone, especially voters.
So far over 12 major cases of violence has been recorded by the media, with a number of cases of threats and intimidation. ANFREL's international observers who are out in the field have reported several cases of such threats and intimidation.
Therefore, ANFREL takes this opportunity to appeal to all party leaders to ask their supporters to end the violence, stop disturbing or obstructing the campaign process of their opponents. All stakeholders should encourage peaceful and violence free elections to pave the way for a credible and peaceful election process in Thailand.