File Photo: Prawit Wongsuwan
File Photo: Prawit Wongsuwan

Anxious politicians urge junta to lift ban on activities

politics October 31, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

THE BAN on political activities that the junta has used to control the behaviour of politicians, academics and activists remains in place although the late King’s mourning period has ended and the organic law governing political parties has been promulgated.



Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the governing arm of the military junta, had not yet convened to discuss the matter.

“The Royal Cremation Ceremony has just finished and we have not convened yet. Why do you have to demand that now?” Prawit said. “We have to consider it first. All this time there has been activism in many sectors that still stir up disorder.”

The clock is ticking for politicians to complete arrangements prescribed by the new organic law on political parties that came into effect early this month.

Political parties must update their registration books within 90 days and collect annual membership fees within 180 days. Failure to comply with the new instructions could make them ineligible to field candidates in the next election.

In the past couple of days, politicians have publicly urged the NCPO to relax the ban on political activities now that the mourning period has ended.

When the organic law came into effect in the first week of October, the NCPO said the removal of the ban had to wait at least until the cremation ceremony was completed.

Watana Muangsook, a leading member of Pheu Thai Party, wrote on Facebook yesterday, slamming the junta for having no shame in saying it had not convened to discuss the matter.

The former commerce minister said that he would not call for anything because the power belonged to the people and the NCPO would not be able to resist it.

Describing the junta administration as “inefficient”, Watana said it should stop playing for time and hurry to lift the ban to move the country towards democracy.

Sathit Pitutaecha, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, said he believed it was now time to get back to the “road map to democracy” towards an election. His party, he said, was preparing to complete the arrangements as required by the new law.

Meanwhile, Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchuphan said yesterday that due to the total lack of applications for membership on the new Election Commission (EC), the applicant committee might choose to approach specific, qualified people to fill the new board.

The application period opened on October 19 and will close on November 10. No one has applied so far.

Meechai said it is still possible that candidates could come forward before the application closing date. “We still have time to wait and see,” he said.