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Political parties give the NCPO a cold shoulder

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PHOTO: Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjaajiva – The Nation

Thank you… next.

Thai political parties are saying thanks, but no thanks, to an invitation to meet with the NCPO tomorrow for a ‘briefing’ about the forthcoming election.

The number of parties boycotting tomorrow’s meeting with the junta is growing with Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjaajiva announcing his party also will not be attending. The Democrats are the latest major political party to shun the meeting called by NCPO.

Earlier, Pheu Thai, Thai Raksa Chart and Future Forward parties had already announced that they won’t be attending any meeting called by the NCPO, stating that the ruling junta had nothing to do with the elections. They have insisted that the upcoming election only concerns the Election Commission and political parties.

Abhisit said yesterday that he “saw no benefit” in attending the meeting, as the NCPO invitation said the event was being held for political parties to hear from the authorities about the next election.

“The invitation said the meeting was for relevant authorities to explain details about the election, not for participants to discuss how the election will be held. So, I’m not sure if there will be any exchange of views,” Abhisit said.

Abhisit also said the Democrats would not join forces with the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party to back General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s return as PM.

He added that many of Palang Pracharat’s policy platforms were not compatible with those of the Democrats. For instance, Palang Pracharat focuses on centralisation of power, while the Democrats want power to be decentralised from Bangkok to the provinces.

Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, who is expected to be Pheu Thai’s chief prime ministerial candidate, maintained yesterday that the party would not attend tomorrow’s meeting if the NCPO and government representatives were present.

“Holding an election is the EC’s duty. We don’t think the government and the NCPO should get involved,” she said.

“I am against the NCPO or the government interfering” through use of absolute power allowed by Article 44 of the post-coup interim charter, some elements of which have been added to the current Constitution.

General Prayut, in his capacity as head of the NCPO, had earlier shrugged off growing opposition to the meeting, which was previously expected to serve as a forum for political parties to voice their requests related to the next election. The national ballot has been tentatively scheduled for February 24.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Nation

 

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