February 11, 2014 00:00 By CHANIKARN PHUMHIRAN
Somchai offers to mediate negotiation between govt and PDRC so that a new poll can be held and a lower House formed
IN ANOTHER effort to overcome the political deadlock, the Election Commission has offered – again –to mediate talks between the two warring parties. EC Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, who supervises |elections, said holding several rounds of elections would not result in the constitutionally required 95 per cent of MPs being elected to enable the Lower House of a new parliament to convene. Somchai said the only chance of that happening was for the opposing sides, especially the caretaker Yingluck government and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, to hold talks. “It would be a way out for a |successful election. It’s not too late to open talks,” he said. “We are ready to mediate and won’t be worried if it fails again because the situation now has changed.” Somchai said a successful outcome from the talks should be reached before the election for half of a new Senate on March 30. He said previous talks failed because of the government, and if that happened again a political problem could turn into an economic problem in a few months. Before the February 2 election, the EC discussed postponing the poll with political parties, but they failed to get together. Somchai will invite government representatives to a meeting next Monday to discuss how to complete the election without breaking the |constitution. Those invited include caretaker Deputy PM Phongthep Thepkanjana, caretaker PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, Pheu Thai strategy committee member Bhokin Bhalakula and former EC member Sodsri Sattayatham. On the agenda will be how to get at least 475 MPs, or 95 per cent of the 500 House seats, in place within 30 days of the election so the House can convene. Also on the agenda will be how to get all 500 MPs in place within the required 180 days, how to announce 125 party-list MPs without knowing the results from about 93,000 polling stations, and how to manage voting in polling stations blocked by protesters. Somchai will brief his fellow EC commissioners on the meeting |outcomes. The EC will send a letter to the |government today proposing that it issue a royal decree to set a new election date for 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces which fielded no candidates at the ballot on Feb 2 because protesters blocked candidates from registering. Somchai said if the government did not agree with the EC’s proposal, the best solution would be for the Constitutional Court to rule on who has the authority to set a new date for the polls.