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Constitutional Court to rule on petition about Feb 2 election

Court also set for hearing today on the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill for mega projects

The Constitutional Court will decide today whether to accept a request to rule on the legality of the February 2 election.

Former Democrat MP Wirat Kalayasiri Wirat lodged the request last week, citing Article 68 of the Constitution in his submission. His petition also called for dissolution of the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the exclusion of its executives from politics for five years.

Meanwhile, the Court will conduct a hearing today on a Democrat Party petition on the legality of the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill the government pushed through Parliament late last year to fund its ambitious mega-infrastructure programme.

As part of the party's submission on the borrowing bill, the Democrats will request that five people should be summoned to give testimony, should the court accept the request. They are two former finance ministers; a deputy Finance Ministry permanent secretary; a former charter-drafting assembly member; and the auditor-general, or a representative.

Meanwhile, Supachai Som-charoen, chairman of the Election Commission, said yesterday that although the EC had decided unanimously to hold voting at 10,284 polling stations in 18 provinces in which voting could not take place on February 2, it would not proceed with the voting in those provinces if there were signs of violence.

If the voting were held but anti-government protesters laid siege to polling booths, it would be a waste of taxpayers' money, he insisted.

The commissioner said the EC would by yesterday submit a proposal to the government that it should issue a royal decree to schedule an election date for the 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces that have no MP candidates.

He said that if the government rejected the proposal, the EC believed it would be necessary to seek a Constitutional Court ruling. Otherwise, if the election agency followed the government's decision to go ahead with additional polling and the election results in those provinces were then to be nullified, it would be a waste of state funds.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana said the government had not received a formal proposal from the EC on the matter, but - as and when it did so - it would urgently reply that there would be no need for the government to issue a new royal decree.

The EC has a responsibility to hold voting until the country has a sufficient number of MPs to convene the House, he stressed.

He denied reports that the government was insistent on completing the February 2 election process on the orders of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and also that he had visited Thaksin in Myanmar.

Democrat deputy spokesman Jurit Laksanawisit urged the coalition partners of the Pheu Thai Party to withdraw their support for the Yingluck Shinawatra caretaker government, in order to provide a way out of the political impasse. Pheu Thai leaders have also verbally insulted their coalition partners.


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