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Exit Polls Show Thais Approve Draft Constitution


Exit polls from Thailand's referendum on a draft constitution suggest voters have accepted the military-backed charter.

A polling agency, Suan Dusit, reports that 68 percent of voters said they approved the new constitution Sunday.

The Election Commission has not said how many of Thailand's 45 million voters turned out for the referendum.

Political analysts say even if the draft constitution is approved, a low turnout would undermine the credibility of the government, and the military that oversees it.

The draft constitution reduces the number of parliamentary seats and limits the prime minister's time in office. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has said if the constitution is approved, general elections will be held in December.

If voters reject the draft constitution, the government can impose one of Thailand's previous 17 constitutions, and amend it as they choose.

Critics say the draft charter is a step backward for democracy because it was drafted by a panel created by the military leaders. Advocates say the constitution will steer Thailand back to democracy.

Thailand's military leaders removed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless military coup last September. They accused him of corruption and of using loopholes in the old constitution to dominate parliament.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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