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Last hurdle to Thai election cleared

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FILE PHOTO: The Nation

Activists sceptical over a promise of a poll next February, say they’re still insisting on Thailand going to an election this year.

After several postponements, the Thai PM has promised Thailand’s first election in five years is set to be held next February. All legal hurdles were finally cleared yesterday with the approval by the Constitutional Court of the political party law.

However, the pro-election movement is still not confident the election will take place as scheduled by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. General Prayut again insisted yesterday that voting will take place next February.

Sirawith Seritiwat, a leader of the pro-election movement, said yesterday that the group remained steadfast in its demand that the election should be held this year.

Last hurdle to Thai election cleared | News by ThaigerSirawith Seritiwat, a leader of the pro-election movement

The Court’s ruling made the group’s demands even more feasible and it would continue to protest until the junta responded to its demands, he said.

In the past two weeks, the Court also gave the green light to the MP and Senate election bills, making all the crucial election laws ready for royal endorsement and promulgation. According to the Constitution, an election can be held within 150 days after all these laws are effective.

Despite all the legal complications having been cleared, political scientist Titipol Phakdeewanich from Ubon Ratchathani University said he had doubts that the election would take place next February.

“After all, it is the NCPO who will make the decision, not the Constitutional Court’s verdict,” he said.

“Only when the junta itself announces the election date, can we be sure the election will take place.”

Last hurdle to Thai election cleared | News by ThaigerPolitical scientist Titipol Phakdeewanich from Ubon Ratchathani University

However, Titipol said that the NCPO should want an election as it was the only way to legitimise the military’s power in politics. But its decision to call one depends largely on whether or not it was certain that it could maintain its grip after the election, he said.

Titipol said there was a 70 to 90 per cent likelihood that the poll would be held. Considering the current circumstances – including the inauguration of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party, backed by former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban – the academic said he believed the NCPO was ready for the election.

Meanwhile, secretary-general of the Election Commission Pol Colonel Jarungvith Phumma said that the agency was ready to organise the election.

It had already completed drafting all the regulations regarding the voting and would promulgated them as soon as the organic laws on the MP and Senate election came into effect, he said.

The two draft bills are in the process of being submitted for royal endorsement, which can take up 90 days.

Jarungvith said the EC will also consider asking the NCPO to lift the ban on political activities once the election-related laws were in place, to allow parties to prepare for the poll.

SOTRY: The Nation

 

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