Prawit tells UDD to shut fraud centres

Prawit tells UDD to shut fraud centres

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is demanding the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) dissolve its anti-fraud centres to monitor the Aug 7 charter referendum or face legal action.

Gen Prawit said the UDD has no business looking out for fraud as state agencies and the Election Commission (EC) are making sure the referendum is clean and transparent.

If the UDD is allowed to operate the centres, other groups would do the same, possibly causing unrest, according to the deputy premier.

UDD unveiled the anti-fraud centre idea early this month with core members including Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut Saikuar and Tida Tawornseth joining the launch. It also planned to invite representatives from international bodies such as the United Nations and member states to observe the centres' operation.

"If they can do it, other [groups] may well follow, and that could cause trouble. What do we have these agencies for? Why don't we just dissolve [state agencies] and let these ones [the UDD centres] do their work," Gen Prawit said sarcastically.

He also played down concerns after the EC on Saturday organised a forum for people to exchange their views on the draft charter at a military barracks, saying such forums could take place inside or outside military areas but the safety of participants must be assured.

The EC-sponsored forum took place at an army camp in Nakhon Si Thammarat and drew about 500 participants from across the southern region. Critics voiced concerns about the agency's choice of venue saying it was not conducive to free speech.

In the wake of the criticism, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had instructed the EC not to hold charter forums in military compounds.

Gen Prayut warned the red shirts not to break any laws, saying if they continued with their anti-fraud centre plan they could face a charge of illegal assembly.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday the centres did not violate the Referendum Act but they could breach the regime's ban on political gatherings.

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