Thailand approves draft constitution

BANGKOK, Aug. 7 (UPI) — Thailand voters have approved a draft constitution penned by an army-appointed committee.

The idea behind the new constitution is to restore stability, but critics believe it will just fortify military control in that country, BBC reported.

Thailand’s election commission reported that with 91 percent of the votes counted, 61.45 percent favor the new constitution and 38.55 percent opposed it. That country’s military tossed the old constitution when it took control of Thailand in 2014 following months of violence and political volatility.

The military has defied any campaigning against the draft constitution and has detained dozens of people. The country’s largest political parties have rejected the draft.

This vote was the first major evaluation of the new junta-led Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who seized power in the 2014 coup and immediately suppressed political activity, South China Morning Post reported.

Most voters were undecided going in to the polls, though there did appear to be a slight majority favoring the new constitution.

Prior to the vote, Chan-Ocha said he would not resign if Thailand rejected the document. Either way, he said, an election will take place next year. He encouraged Thai citizens to participate in the process.

“I urge everyone to come out and vote… to decide on the future of the country,” Prayuth told reporters before voting began, speaking from a polling station in northwest Bangkok.

Some 200,000 police officers were sent out to polling places during the vote. However, there were no signs of protest.

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