Army 'not behind fake charter papers'

Army 'not behind fake charter papers'

Some mail-outs traced to city's Dusit district

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has denied the army was behind the delivery of documents containing distorted information to people.

NCPO spokesman Piyapong Klinpan was commenting after several thousand letters containing allegedly distorted information on the draft charter were found to have been sent to residents in Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lumphun.

Rumours have spread the army was behind the move after some of the letters mailed to Chiang Mai were found to have originated in Dusit district of Bangkok which houses a large military unit.

"The NCPO is not behind it. What could we gain from doing so?" Col Piyapong said.

He said police investigators were looking at CCTV camera footage taken near mailboxes.

He said there was no confirmation at this stage as to which political group was behind the mail-out.

He said the letters intended to mislead the public by saying if the draft charter was adopted, it would lead to the scrapping of key policies such as the old-age allowance, free education and the 30-baht universal healthcare scheme.

Col Piyapong said the Aug 7 referendum on the draft charter has received a good response from people and a large voter turnout is expected.

Asked whether the army would give people living in remote areas a lift to polling stations, the spokesman said it depends on whether the Election Commission requests the army to do so. The army is ready to provide the service if requested, although the army will be cautious about how it does so to prevent breaking the law, he said.

Red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar said a large bundle of letters had been mailed at the same postal box, as though the person responsible intended to be caught.

"Society should ask which side first blew the whistle about the letters and who would benefit from the letters being exposed," he said, suggesting that the army had tried to implicate the red shirts' in the matter.

Speaking about concerns over the spread of documents allegedly containing distorted information about the draft charter, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said authorities are expediting their investigation.

He said the documents with distortions were found to have been distributed mostly in the North and some areas in the Northeast.

Referring to a scenario in which the draft constitution is shot down in the referendum, Mr Wissanu said new constitutional elements may be added to a new draft.

But before doing so, the interim charter has to be amended to say who would handle the charter drafting work and specify the drafting time frame, he said.

The government also has to make preparations in the event the draft charter passes the referendum, he noted.

Former foreign minister and senior Pheu Thai Party figure Noppadon Pattama said he believed the NCPO will not put off the election planned for next year regardless of whether the draft charter passes the referendum or not.

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