Wed 6 Jul 2011
Filed under: Regional
Burma’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday welcomed Thailand’s election outcome, which has paved the way for Yingluck Shinawatra to become the country’s first female prime minister.
“I like that she’s a woman but the most important thing is the relationship between the two nations and our people,” Mrs Suu Kyi told reporters on the second day of her visit to the ancient temple city of Pagan in central Burma.
“We also have to welcome the government democratically elected by the people,” she said, also expressing hope that ties with neighbouring Thailand would remain strong under 44-year-old Yingluck’s administration.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the outcome of the elections, voicing hope that the polls would help consolidate democracy, reconciliation and stability in the country.
In a prepared statement, Mr Ban noted “the orderly conduct” of the elections “and the promise by all parties to respect the will of the Thai people as expressed through the democratic process”.
He said he “hopes that the elections mark an important step towards genuine reconciliation, long-term stability and consolidation of democratic norms in the country”.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan issued a statement yesterday congratulating Ms Yingluck on her impressive victory.
The overwhelming support and clear mandate should help form a solid foundation for her leadership, Mr Surin said.
Meanwhile, in Thailand the Asian Network for Free Elections, Asia’s first regional network of civil society organisations promoting and supporting democratisation, yesterday urged the Election Commission to clarify how the number of ballot papers printed for the election exceeded the permitted number.
Damaso Magbual, the network’s mission head, said the EC’s electoral regulations limit the percentage of excess ballots printed in each election to 7% of total ballots. But the number of ballots printed for this election was 12% more than the number of voters.
Voter turnout in each election normally was not more than 67% of the total voting population, so it was not necessary for the EC to print so many, Mr Magbual said.
He said the EC should also investigate the round of advance voting, which took place a week before the general election. He said that people who registered for non-resident advance voting in 2007 were not aware that their names remained on the list and they thus lost their right to vote in this election.
“Around 500,000 to 1 million eligible voters were unable to vote in the 2011 election as a result,” he said.He said that the registration for advance voting should be conducted on a per election basis.