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Shortage of monitors for general election



PHUKET: Just over two months before Thailand’s general election is due to take place, Phuket still does not have enough observers to monitor the polling to ensure that it is clean, one of Thailand’s four Election Commissioners revealed yesterday.

“This is a big problem,” the Commissioner, Prinya Nakchudtree, told local authority officials gathered at Phuket Municipality.

K. Prinya said the shortage of monitors was a country-wide problem. He said that if enough monitors could not been found by the time of the election, “My office [the Office of the Election Commission of Thailand – OECT], will ask the governors of each province to provide support officers. And we will get the army and the police to help us [if necessary].”

The Commissioner was in Phuket to talk with local government figures – including Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwannasuppana and Phuket Provincial Administration Organization President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr – about the preparations for the general election, due to take place by February 5 next year.

“The OECT is ready to launch the general election,” said K. Prinya, adding that his office had already received an allocation of 2.2 billion baht to prepare for it.

Each candidate is to receive a handbook explaining election law and the regulations governing campaigning.

“No one will have any excuse for not knowing the law, or for not following it,” said K. Prinya.

He continued, “The OECT will declare the result of the election in each district within 30 days, but we will look for cases of misconduct and we will have a one-year period [following the election] in which we will be able to dismiss from office anyone found to have cheated.”

He added that he hoped the election would attract a turnout of at least 60%.

K. Prinya agreed that there may be problems in the southernmost provinces of Thailand, which are experiencing separatist-related violence. But, he said, he would be working with the governors of each province and the situation did not worry him greatly.

Thai nationals wishing to volunteer for duty as election monitors should ask their local kamnan or phu yai baan to put their name forward to the Election Commission.


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