CMPO's charges against poll officials groundless, Sukhumbhand says

national February 04, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

BANGKOK GOVERNOR Sukhum-bhand Paribatra said yesterday that the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order had no grounds in deciding to take legal action against city officials who resigned as election officials.

The CMPO announced on Sunday that it had instructed the police to conduct an investigation against some Bangkok election officials who quit without providing a reason or walked out of the job abruptly, which it says prevented people from casting their vote.

Sukhumbhand said the CMPO should not pass the blame or link its political failure with city officials or make them scapegoats.

He said the Election Commission was in charge of the poll, so the CMPO must respect the EC and let it handle election issues.

He insisted that city officials and volunteers had carried out their duty to the best of their ability and he was proud of them.

He said city officials had nothing to do with the fact that many polling stations closed on Sunday.

The EC had ordered that if there were a risk of clashes, then officials should withdraw or close the polling station.

The governor also said he had gone out to cast his vote on Sunday even though he did not want to, adding that he would tell the EC that he was unable to do so because voting had been cancelled in Ratchathewi district.

Bangkok city clerk Ninnart Chalitanon said the city administration would not order investigation against volunteers who applied as election officials and suddenly quit because the capital was still reeling under political turmoil.

She said the volunteers had been asked to help, and if they end up being investigated, the city would not be able to ask for their help again.

She reported that 516 polling stations had cancelled voting, 13 had closed ahead of time and up to 114 stations could not open because of the lack of election officials.

Only 1,143,667 voters or 26.1 per cent of the 4,369,120 eligible voters in Bangkok turned out. Of the 33 constituencies, 30 were given ballot boxes. Also 389 polling stations could not get their ballot boxes as protesters had besieged them, including 86 stations in Ratchathewi district and 175 in Din Daeng.

Of the total polling stations in Bangkok, 516 were not able to hold voting on Sunday, while 6,155 could.

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