The content in this page ("Road Map for Peaceful Solution and Win/Win Game for Thai Government and Red Shirts" by Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Road Map for Peaceful Solution and Win/Win Game for Thai Government and Red Shirts

According to all the suggestions proposed for a peaceful negotiations for the 3rd round of meeting between Government and the Red Shirt to end the political deadlock at this moment, ANFREL would like to propose a Road Map for Free and Fair Election in order to create a free and fair democratic atmosphere for the up-coming Parliamentary Election. The Road map for Free and Fair Election could provide room for all parties and supporters fairly and build up the necessary political confidence and trust for Thai peoples in general and ending the deadlock by non-violence means.
 
As of now all opposition players (parties and supporters) are worried about the up-coming election, raising concerns that the current Government might take advantage as the ruling government and utilize state machineries for their electoral gain. The ruling parties’ opposition of the Red Shirt is also worried with concerns that they would not be able to campaign properly in the provinces especially northern and north-eastern region. The parties of the Red shirt supporters might also not be able to properly campaign in the southern region.
 
Thai people, candidates and party agents are also not confident that there will be no clash during upcoming pre-election campaign and if the election itself would be peaceful enough for them to express their full-democratic political exercise because most feel that people are more polarized and have developed a deep hatred of the other side.  This could impact on the overall voter turnout at the national level which could be very low and not adequately reflect the “people’s democratic choice” across the nation. Therefore the Parliamentary Election in almost all the provinces could end up with re-elections which will be very costly and decrease peoples’ interest. As a result, the election may not be accepted as free and fair one.
 
Concerns have also been expressed that such a situation will lead to more turmoil; uprising and an escalated post-election violence could take place. However, such a similar situation has occurred in other countries and efforts to have it solved have been via a proposed solution called “Non-party Caretaker government” for creating a conducive environment for free and fair elections and holding the Parliamentary Election.
              
In order not to lose more lives, to minimize the risk of violence pre and post elections and to reduce the budgetary expenses of the election and re-election, there must be a reconciliation phase before the dissolution of parliament prior Parliamentary Election. This is to prepare the machinery to organize accepted “Free and Fair Election” for small and opposition parties.
 
The proposed steps to be taken could be as following:
 
The dialogue and meeting between two conflicting parties/supporters must be resumed. They both should agree on the steps to set up a machinery to organize “Free and Fair Election” prior the dissolution of parliament. The machineries to be set up is to have Special National Election Act to set up “Non Party Care Taker Government”[2] The members of Non-party Care Taker Government will be responsible for all ministries for 60 days prior the Parliamentary Election and another 30 days after the Election Day.  The ruling parties and opposition parties would return to equal position as political parties’ members or candidates only during the 60 days of election campaign.  The Non-party Care Taker Government, can be exceed by 10 members, will not have any authorities/position to favor any political parties/candidates in the election but only manage day to day ministerial services. The state officers will be accountable to such a government for their neutrality/non-partisan and only provide their duty to nurture the election to be held in free and fair manner.  All government officials will not need to involve in candidates request for taking state resources to favor anyone. (This proposal was studied from the model of Bangladesh where the country has used this mechanism until now)
 
Context of the negotiation between Government and the RED shirt must include the commitment as a social contract in writing that they will be no use of any means of violence to win the election. Pre and post-election no one should be labeled as political targets by any groups, any political parties and there should be no witch-hunting.  Representatives of Thai society should be a witness of the signing session of such important written commitment. All political parties and the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) shall distribute this document widely to all parties’ members, community’s leaders; violation/breach of this social commitment shall be taken seriously and it should result in sanctions against the person/party violating it.
 
Election Commission and the role of media shall be in cooperation to promote free and fair election by not blocking or using violence to block any peaceful election campaign/ travelling of any political parties/agents/supporters.

After agreement is made, all political parties shall independently hold a test field visit in all 76 provinces with their parties’ symbols, parties’ names, individuals and representative of the parties. The filed visit shall be conducted in order to test level of security, safety, confidence and to reduce hate by aiming to return normalcy and to prevent any further violence and loss of lives.
 
The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), both parties to the conflict and the press shall monitor the process to ensure that there will be no threat or force from any influential political groups such as district and village headmen, monks, religious leaders or government authorities, businessmen and other local influential individuals. The press shall also carry out their role neutrally without bias or favor toward any particular group, and shall not make any promise or threat at any time prior or post election. Any violation to these rules shall be imposed by serious sanctions without any exception or discrimination no matter what political opinions or believes.
 
All parties must keep their eyes on vote buying and selling, especially in this election where there are lives and future political carriers on the bet. Therefore, anyone who engages in vote buying/selling shall be seriously punished. Crime of vote buying and selling shall be no more neglected and turned away just because of the reason that those who sell their vote are poor, allowing them to take money and not aware that it is illegal.

During the above mention process, all political parties and social sectors shall, at the same time, organize discussions to seek solution on social and political structural reform, so that such current demand for social justice and equality will not be forgotten. It will be a chance for all politicians to sincerely express their vision and responsibility to the society. It would also be a good chance for the people and civil society sector to express their concerns and opinion on important issues as this country belong to the people not just a handful of political leaders.
 
Last but crucial, an “Electoral Court” shall be established to hear all case related to elections and electoral fraud. There shall be fair and prompt judicial process. Election Commission shall only be responsible for organizing and administration of election and can only make primarily decision to disqualify the candidate.
 
ANFREL calls for all parties to accept the fact that we have lost lives, economic opportunities, and we also lost our opportunity for development of democracy with non-violence and peaceful means. Spending more time to continue on what have already been lost cannot be considered as time buying for anyone. On the other hand, the above proposal shall be regarded as giving time to oneself, giving a chance to our nation and to the people to participate in our social reforms in order to be worthwhile for those lives which have been lost. The above 8 recommendations could be permanently applied in every elections in the future. For the sake of unity of Thai society, ANFREL calls for all parties to please take our recommendations into consideration.
 
Somsri Hananuntasuk
Executive Director – ANFREL

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