US, EU call on junta to start elections

US, EU call on junta to start elections

Elizabeth Trudeau, official spokeswoman for the US State Department, briefs the media on the latest statement on the Thai political process. (Video grab from US State Department)
Elizabeth Trudeau, official spokeswoman for the US State Department, briefs the media on the latest statement on the Thai political process. (Video grab from US State Department)

The European Union and the United States both called on the military regime Tuesday to restore freedom of speech and move quickly to general elections.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau, at the daily media briefing, told the press, "I have quite a bit to say on this". She started by saying military authorities should confirm election results and, "proceed with next steps to return Thailand to elected civilian-led government as soon as possible".

From Brussels, the EU's spokesperson issued a statement criticising restrictions on free speech during the run-up to last Sunday's referendum.

"It is essential that the current restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly are lifted," said the EU statement.

It called on "Thai authorities to create the conditions for a genuine democratic transition leading to early general elections".

The US and EU statements were the first official foreign reaction to last Sunday's referendum, during which a solid majority of voters approved adoption of a constitution written by an appointed committee.

Both Washington and Brussels emphasised their calls for an urgent lifting of bans on human and civil rights, especially freedom of speech.

The EU noted, "There were serious limitations to fundamental freedoms, including restrictions on debate and campaigning."

"It is essential that the current restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly are lifted to allow for an open, inclusive and accountable political process," the EU stated.

Ms Trudeau said the US government was similarly concerned. "We ... remain concerned that the drafting process for the constitution was not inclusive, that open debate was not permitted in the run-up to its adoption."

The EU called for a peaceful transition to civilian rule. The US statement urged the junta to encourage "an open, unimpeded dialogue" about the country's political future".

Neither the Americans nor the Europeans made any criticism of the actual referendum process. But activists in Thailand announced on Monday they intend to file a lawsuit against the Election Commission, alleging it organised an unfair and objectionable referendum.


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