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Meechai suggests legal amendment to solve impasse on political ban

politics November 16, 2017 01:00

By KHANITTHA THEPPAJON
THE NATION

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AMENDING the organic law governing political parties has been suggested as a solution to the impasse over the junta’s refusal to lift the ban on political gatherings.



Because of the ban, political parties are unable to begin making arrangements prescribed by law for the election due to be held late next year.

Meechai Ruchupan, head of the Constitution Drafting Commission and a member of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), floated the idea yesterday following growing concern that parties might not be able to meet the deadline should the restrictions remain.

Parties may first request that the Election Commission (EC) prolong the preparation period, he said. If that does not work out, an amendment could be the last resort.

If parties decide to exercise their right to amend the law, the EC would have to make a request to the government, Meechai said. That approach would be more appropriate than invoking Article 44, which grants the junta absolute powers under the interim charger, he said.

The organic law on political parties was enacted last month, so the countdown to the election has partly begun. Under the law, political parties are required, for instance, to make adjustments such as updating registration records and reporting them to the EC registrar within 90 days. Failing to comply with the stipulations could make them ineligible to field candidates in the election.

Meechai suggested that parties in the process of revising their records could reach out to members for updates using letters or the Internet. However, each member would have to provide his or her signature to guarantee the information was truthful.

‘Not a problem’

“I don’t know whether they can make it in time. We have to ask them. But if they can’t, they have to report [to relevant agencies] so the EC can fix it.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the NCPO was aware of the issue and it believed that related bodies would be able to handle the situation.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had made assurances that he would not let it hurt political parties’ rights, he said.

Pheu Thai Party yesterday submitted a letter to the NCPO at the public service centre near Government House, calling on the junta to relax the ban on political activities.

In the letter signed by the party’s acting leader, Pol Lt-General Viroj Pao-In, it said failure to lift the ban now that an organic law on political parties had been promulgated would damage the parties.

The law, setting out procedures which parties must follow within a set timeframe, came into effect five weeks ago, but the ruling junta has yet to lift its ban restricting their activities and preventing them from holding meetings.

The law requires procedures to be followed within 90 days of its promulgation – by early January. However, the junta last month refused to relax the ban until after the cremation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The NCPO has recently indicated that it was mulling ways to lift the ban.

In a related development, speculation has heightened that Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda would take a post at the Social and Human Development Ministry, as part of the fourth Cabinet reshuffle of the Prayut government.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Chakthip has reportedly written his resignation from his police post, but not yet submitted it to Prayut as he wishes to remain in the police post.

It has also been reported that Social and Human Development Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew would be reshuffled to the post of Deputy PM, and that General Chatchai Sarikulya, the Agriculture Minister, would be shifted to a post at the Labour Ministry. Chatchai’s current post would be filled by former permanent secretary and minister Yukol Limlamthong.

The reports also said that Energy Minister Generl Anantaporn Kanjanarat would be replaced by General Yodyuth Boonyathikarn, which has just resigned from his post as president of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand.