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‘Advance voting in Thailand rife with irregularities’ – Observers

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Monitoring groups on Friday raised concerns about the transparency of the upcoming polls in Thailand.

The advance voting, held nationwide on March 17, was rife with vote buying and other irregularities, said PollWatch, a local independent group.

Many voters were reportedly paid between $3 and $60 by political parties to attend their rallies.

The ruling military government has also raised funding for local communities by 50 per cent, one week before the election, the group said.

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“We have submitted the complaints and some evidence to the Election Commission, but so far there’s no investigation,’’ the group added.

Other irregularities include parties confiscating voters’ ID cards, wrong ballots being handed out to voters, lack of transparency in ballot transportation, intimidation of election observers and lack of clear information about disqualified candidates, another monitoring group, “We Watch”, said.

“We Watch hopes that the Election Commission will fix these mistakes and prevent them from happening again on March 24, we want this election to be free and fair,’’ the group said.

After five years under repressive military rule, Thais will finally get to decide on their country’s leadership.

But political analysts and activists do not consider the upcoming election to be fully free and fair and say it will only lead to semi-democratic rule. (NAN)