Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Votes tallied in Maldives, Thailand and Kazakhstan

Thailand: Voters in a national referendum approved a new constitution Sunday with 57 percent favoring it and 41 percent against, clearing the way for an election by December that would restore civilian rule after last year's military-led coup, unofficial results showed.

The 186-page constitution, which would be the country's 18th since 1932, curbs the role of politicians, gives more power to unelected bodies such as the courts and could perpetuate the behind-the-scenes power the military has long wielded.

Interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said the vote was "the first step in moving forward to full democracy" after last year's coup deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The charter is expected to be enacted by the end of August after it is endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Surayud said he hoped an election could be held soon after the monarch's Dec. 5 birthday.

Kazakhstan: The authoritarian president's party swept Kazakhstan's parliamentary election, winning all the seats in a vote that was rejected Sunday by the opposition and deemed flawed by international observers. Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party got 88 percent of Saturday's vote, and no other party cleared the 7 percent barrier needed to win seats in the legislature, according to preliminary results released Sunday by the Central Elections Commission.

Maldives: Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the longtime president of this Indian Ocean nation, won an overwhelming victory Sunday in a referendum on the future form of government, but the opposition said the results were rigged.

The vote was expected to clear the way for the Sunni Muslim nation of 300,000 to adopt a new constitution in November. Gayoom sought a U.S.-style political system with a powerful executive presidency. Results Sunday showed the presidential form of government winning more than 60 percent of the vote, while the parliamentary system took 38 percent.

Source: Star Tribune

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