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“The appointment of half of the senators also insults the intelligence of the people,” said Thongbai Thongpao, a prominent human rights lawyer.

Supporters of a “no” vote complained of harassment and threats after they attracted several thousand people to rallies in Bangkok in recent weeks.

“The referendum on the draft constitution has the facade of being a democratic choice, but it is being carried out under a distinctly undemocratic and repressive climate,” the English-language Bangkok Post said in an Aug. 1 editorial.

“The threat that the country will remain unsettled unless we vote for the draft charter is a cheap scare tactic, but one that seems to be working,” the editorial said.