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05BANGKOK801 THAILAND: PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE AND ELECTION FRAUD DISQUALIFICATIONS

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000801

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE AND ELECTION

FRAUD DISQUALIFICATIONS

 

REF: BANGKOK 0673

 

¶1. (SBU) Summary: As the February 6 date for national

parliamentary elections in Thailand draws closer we are

seeing frequent allegations of vote buying and even some

reports of poll-related killings. These activities have

never been absent from the Thai electoral process in the

past, but the degree to which authorities are able and

willing to prosecute and punish political cheaters and to

guarantee the security of campaign workers and candidates is

one key measure of Thailand’s current level of political

maturity. With just over a week to go before the election,

there have been over 70 election law violation-related

disqualifications, according to the Election Commission (EC).

Violence has also been reported, with 9 incidents of attacks

on party canvassers (several resulting in deaths) and in one

case on a parliamentary candidate. A Mahachon Party

candidate for Parliament has been charged with one of the

murders. Over the final campaign week the allegations of

fraud – and the incidences of violence – could grow. End

Summary.

 

ACCUSATIONS OF CAMPAIGN FRAUD RISING

 

¶2. (U) The most prominent allegations of vote buying so far

have been those against Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin

Chidchob — who is heading up the Thai Rak Thai (TRT)

electoral campaign in the South, and against Barnharn

Silpa-archa, the veteran Chart Thai (CP) leader and former

Thai prime minister. In each case these high profile

political figures have been accused (though in the case of

Barnharn no formal complaint has been filed – yet) of

offering money for votes. Both Newin and Barnharn are under

threat of being “red carded” (i.e. disqualified from the

elections) by the National Election Commission, but as noted

in reftel, an outcome where the full weight of the electoral

law is applied to them seems unlikely at the moment.

 

COMPLAINTS THAT CANVASSERS AND CANDIDATES OFFERING VOTERS

“INCENTIVES”

 

¶3. (U) According to the Election Commission in Bangkok, by

January 26, over 70 election law violation-related

disqualifications have been made. Democrat Party, Mahachon

Party and Chart Thai Party candidates were among those

disqualified (along with a number of smaller party

candidates. So far no TRT candidates have been barred for

violations. Of those disqualified, 42 were party list

candidates and 32 were contesting constituencies. In most

cases, the complaints involve allegations that candidates had

violated election laws by promising cash for votes,

distributing goods such as bags of rice to prospective

voters, or offering free trips to popular vacation spots.

According to electoral law procedures, complaints of election

violations are submitted to the Provincial Election

Commission offices and, if verified at this level, are

forwarded to the Central Election Commission in Bangkok for

further investigation.

 

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

 

¶4. (U) Since November last year, there have been 9 cases of

violent attacks on canvassers and candidates throughout the

country.

 

First incident – Shooting at the residence of a TRT candidate

in Constituency 9, Nakhon Ratchasima on November 1, 2004.

 

Second incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a

TRT candidate in Constituency 9, Nakhon Ratchasima on

November 24, 2004.

 

Third incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a

Democrat Party (DP) candidate in Constituency 2, Phrae, on

December 04, 2004.

 

Fourth incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a

TRT candidate in Constituency 1, Ayutthaya on January 10,

¶2005. (The Mahachon Party’s Ayutthaya candidate, Surachet

Chaikosol, has been charged with the murder.)

 

Fifth incident – Shooting at the residence of a political

aide to a DP candidate in Constituency 2, Phrae on January

12, 2005.

 

Sixth incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a DP

candidate in Constituency 2, Phichit on January 14, 2005.

 

Seventh incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a

Mahachon Party (MCN) candidate in Constituency 3, Chiang Rai

on January 18, 2005.

 

Eighth incident – Attempted killing of a CT candidate in

Constituency 3, Narathiwat on January 21, 2005 (the candidate

was slightly injured but his aide remains in critical

condition from the shooting).

 

Ninth incident – Gun attack on the residence of a canvasser

of a DP candidate in Constituency 2, Rayong on January 21,

¶2005.

 

CLOSING DAYS COULD SEE MORE VIOLENCE AND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

 

¶4. (SBU) Comment: If past electoral experience is an

accurate guide, the violence and charges of vote buying and

fraud will intensify over coming days as the February 6

polling date grows closer.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 4:41 am

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