POLITICIANS have warned junta-appointed legislators to think twice about amending the Election Commission (EC) law, as doing so could further delay the next general election.
A group of 36 National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members are seeking an amendment to the legislation, particularly regarding election inspectors, leading to a heated debate.
The legislators’ move came after the outgoing EC members started the selection of election inspectors for all 77 provinces. The NLA members called the current EC move “inappropriate” and said the process should wait until a new set of election commissioners takes over.
Five of the seven nominated EC members were approved by the NLA recently, but they need royal endorsement before they can start performing their duty.
Democrat Party deputy leader Ongart Klampaiboon yesterday said he did not buy the NLA members’ reasoning. He said the new EC should be continuing the work of the previous EC, which currently is in an acting capacity, and not be undoing all their work.
The proposed amendment on the regulation even cut out participation by the people’s sector in order to select inspectors, Ongart said.
“Although the NLA claims it wants to amend the law with the aim of enabling a free and fair election, their rationale is quite illogical,” the deputy said. “I doubt they have been ordered to do so by some of the powers-that-be.”
If that were true, he added that it could be very dangerous to the country during the pre-election period. “The powers-that-be are also likely to take part in the coming election. If they misuse their power for their own games in the election, this will erode the legitimacy of the election.”
Meanwhile, EC president Supachai Somcharoen that the agency would merely follow any law enacted by the NLA. “As long as there isn’t any change, we will follow the timeline that we have already mapped out,” Supachai said.
Regarding the election timeline, he said the current EC would propose to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to use its absolute power under Article 44 order to authorise the EC to demarcate constituencies so that political parties can conduct primary voting.
The primary voting system is obligated under the junta-written Constitution to obtain MP candidates to contest in the election.
As the process of primary voting will require sufficient numbers of party members in each constituency in order to cast their votes, it would likely consume some time. Supachai proposed that parties should be able to learn their constituencies after the MP election bill is published in the Royal Gazette.
This still does not add up as the MP election bill will only come into effect only 90 days after it is published.
Supachai raised the issue that constituencies should be lined up during those 90 days in order to be ready for the general election, which must be organised within five months of all four organic laws related to the election coming into effect, according to the charter.
The Article 44 power is also required for the ruling NCPO since the junta has banned all forms of political party activities, unless specially permitted by the NCPO, citing “order and security reasons” during its four years in power.