Thailand: Junta Seeks to Extend Its Power With Constitutional Referendum | The New York Times

Thailand’s military junta will hold a national referendum Sunday on a new constitution that it casts as an essential step toward restoring democracy. But the junta has blocked opponents from campaigning against the measure, banned election monitors and restricted news coverage of the referendum. And the proposed constitution, critics say, would weaken the role of elected officials and extend the military’s influence for years to come. The vote will be the first major test of the military’s standing with the public, as much a referendum on the legitimacy of military rule as on the draft constitution. But no matter the outcome, the junta will remain in control until it decides to hand power back to an elected government. For Thailand, which changes constitutions more often than the United States changes presidents, the proposed charter is not necessarily expected to endure. But it seeks to reduce the influence of any one politician or party, a measure that seems particularly directed at populist leaders who appeal to the poorer rural population of northern Thailand.

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