ARMM poll watchdog to observe Thai elections

Salic Ibrahim, chairman of Citizens Coalition for Electoral Reforms (C-CARE) is part of the 32-person team of observers that would be sent to 16 provinces of Thailand. The team members represent their own independent election monitoring units back in their home countries.

It was the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), established in 1997 as Asia's first regional network of civil society organizations, that sent the invitation to the C-CARE, a poll watchdog in the ARMM.

C-CARE was organized only two years ago.

The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) will administer the first general elections after the military overthrew the Prime Minister of Thailand and discarded the 1997 Constitution.

ANFREL coordinator Somsri Hananuntasuk said the mission of the observer's team is to monitor the conduct of the general elections and report its observation directly to ANFREL. The mission will last for 20 days, from December 7 to December 26.

ANFREL reported that the 32 observers from Asian countries will be sent to 16 provinces and will be helped by the local host organizations, Poll Watch Foundation and People's Network for Elections in Thailand.

C-CARE is a coalition of people's organizations, non-government organizations, sectoral organizations, and electoral reform advocates. It was organized in June 2005 and was accredited as the citizen's arm of the Commission on Elections in the ARMM on August 8, 2005.

It has served as poll watchdog during the August 2005 ARMM elections and the May 14 congressional and local elections and ithe barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.on October 29 this year.

The ANFREL, on the other hand, has helped strengthen the democratization of countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor and Indonesia. (MindaNews)