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Sonthi satisfied with outcome

Junta chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin conceded yesterday that support for the new charter was lower than expected in the referendum, but said he was satisfied with the outcome.

Published on August 21, 2007

Sonthi satisfied with outcome

Noranit Settabutr, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Assembly, second from right, receives the official voting results on the charter referendum from Election Commissioner Praphan Naikowit at Parliament yesterday.

"I previously expected a majority vote of 60 to 65 per cent but, in a democracy, a majority of one vote indicates a passage of the charter," he said in reference to the referendum support of 56.69 per cent.

Sonthi spoke to Channel 9 yesterday morning from Kuala Lumpur where he is on an official visit.

He said he did not anticipate that voters in the Northeast would reject the charter or that residents in the North would just back it.

"I think many people have yet to gain an understanding of the charter provisions," he said.

He blamed anti-coup campaigners for spreading false information about the draft provisions.

He said he would instruct soldiers to reason with the public, many of whom have not read the charter draft.

Sonthi said enforcement of martial law in selected border provinces would continue for security reasons and had nothing to do with preparations for the election.

"The general election will proceed as has been planned and security measures will not impact on campaigning."

He reiterated that the poll should take place by year's end unless there were unforeseen circumstances.

He said he would not comment on his future before his retirement on September 30.

Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk said Sunday's referendum was a success because the "yes" vote topped those who voted "no" by almost 20 per cent.

With the charter paving the way for the general election, it was a good time for rival camps to stop protesting and allow the country to move forward, he said.

Meanwhile, rumours spread yesterday that the government might transfer provincial governors and local police chiefs who failed to ensure a "yes" vote in their areas on the charter.

But a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied there would be any punishment of officials in areas where the charter was rejected.

"The annual rotations of soldiers, policemen and civilians will take place in September and has nothing to do with the referendum vote," he said.

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