The two election commissioner candidates nominated by the Supreme Court are eligible to run again in the contest despite their earlier rejection by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), chief charter drafter Meechai Ruchupan said on Tuesday.
Pakorn Mahannop and Chatchai Chanpraisri were selected by the court’s judges as their candidates.
Meechai said the law only barred those chosen by the selection committee from contesting again, but it was up to the NLA whether or not to accept those who had been rejected first time around.
However, news has circulated that the rejection last week of all seven Election Commission (EC) candidates was partly due to a controversy surrounding the selection of the two candidates from the Supreme Court.
Outgoing election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn had questioned whether the court’s voting to select the two might not have been constitutional.
The Supreme Court judges had voted in a secret ballot, whereas the law requires that they do so in an open ballot.
Meanwhile, EC president Supachai Somcharoen said the electoral agency could still function even though one of its commissioners was about to retire and the number of panel members would therefore be reduced to four.
However, if it were to be reduced further, to just three members, the commission would not be able to make decisions on any big issues, he warned.
Supachai was apparently alluding to the potential resignation of EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, which is possible if his application to be the agency’s secretary-general is successful.
The EC president said that there must however be some solution to the problem.
If the ruling junta were to use its sweeping Article 44 power to extend the incumbency of the retiring member, the EC would not have any problem with that, he added.
In a related development, Council of State secretary-general Distat Hotrakitya on Tuesday said the council, which is working on the six local election laws, could take at least a month to complete its work.
The EC will submit its opinion on the bills today and the council would have to revise them accordingly, he explained.
However, the council has been ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to expedite the work in order to make it possible to hold the local elections quickly, Distat said.
The local elections are expected to take place this year, which would also make the road map to the general election clearer, as the junta also said it should leave an appropriate gap between the local and national polls.