PHUKET CITY: The Election Commission (EC) in Bangkok has “yellow-carded” Phuket Provincial Administration Organization President Paiboon Upatising and a fellow PPAO member for electoral fraud in Thalang and has recommended that new elections be held to fill both seats.
According to a press release on the EC website, the ruling was decided during a March 19 meeting of the EC, in which rulings were made in a number of electoral fraud cases from around the country.
According to the press release, the EC ruled in favor of a complaint lodged by Thalang District 3 candidate Apinan Wongna, who lost out to rival candidate Sawat Muchawej for the seat.
The press release did not say what evidence was provided by Mr Apinan.
Ruling that both Mr Paiboon and Mr Sawat had been involved in vote-buying, the EC ordered by-elections to fill both seats.
Under the EC rules, candidates given “yellow cards” can run again in the by-election, while those issued “red cards” cannot.
Mr Paiboon, who has held the office for almost a year, will be allowed to continue in his duties as normal until the Appeals Court makes its ruling on the case.
The commission also reached a majority decision to press for criminal charges against Mr Thawee Phanthip, Mr Somsak Torthip, Mrs Lamai Maiso and Miss Siriwan Santisukthirakul for distributing cash to eligible voters.
All four are understood to be canvassers based in Tambon Pa Khlok.
The EC ruling did not specify the date of the by-election, which is to be organized by Phuket Election Committee Director Supap Akkam.
Despite the ruling’s appearance on the EC website, Mr Supap this morning told the Gazette that he had yet to receive any official confirmation of the ruling or instructions from the EC, though he said he had received numerous phone calls from reporters about it.
The EC will now forward its findings to the Court of Appeals to render a final decision in the case in accordance with Section 239 of the Constitution.
Former PPAO President Anchalee Vanich Tephabutra, who lost to Mr Paiboon by more than 20,000 votes in the April 2008 contest, today told the Gazette she has no intention of running in the by-election because she is currently serving in the national government as deputy secretary to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
However, Mrs Anchalee said she was reviewing EC law to see if there were any statutes that would require her to run for the seat again.
— Kamol Pirat
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