Thailand tightens controls on media ahead of charter vote

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Thailand's military government has tightened its control on electronic media ahead of a referendum next month on a draft constitution, giving the country's telecommunications authority power to shut down any radio or television station whose broadcasts are judged to threaten national security.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha authorized the move Thursday by invoking a catch-all article in the country's temporary constitution that gives the ruling junta absolute power to carry out virtually any action in the name of national security. The army seized power in May 2014 from an elected government.

The junta already has declared that inappropriate campaigning to affect the referendum's outcome is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Critics of the draft charter charge that it is undemocratic.