Thailand PM pledges to battle election corruption

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Bangkok, Oct 5 (UNI) Thailand Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has said he will ensure free and fair elections in the country by reducing the role of money power in the December 23 polls.

''My government will cooperate with the Election Commission to improve understanding and to monitor intelligence to reduce vote-buying as much as we can,'' Bangkok post quoted Mr Surayud as saying yesterday.

The statement came a day after he assumed the post of interior minister, entrusted with overseeing the polls aimed at restoring democracy in the country after a bloodless military coup an year ago.

He also met Election Commissioner Apichart Sukhagganond and assured that the elections would proceed as scheduled. The Commission urged financial institutions to investigate transactions of politicians suspected of indulging in horse trading.

''I will do my utmost to restore normalcy to our country so that we can move ahead,'' he added.

Mr Surayud added that the Election Commission would seek a royal endorsement of the election date by mid-October. The vote-buying issue was a top priority for the EC ahead of the polls.

Thailand has a long history of vote-buying, although some researchers say it has declined over the last decade.

UNI

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