Court to rule today on election date

national January 24, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

The Constitutional Court will rule today on whether the election will be held on February 2, and on whether any government agencies or the Election Commission (EC) have the authority to set a new date, amid the caretaker government's continued strong push

The court decided yesterday to take the EC’s petition into its consideration and will make a ruling today. It must act quickly because advance polling is due to take place on Sunday. 
The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction to rule on these issues, as two state authorities are in conflict. 
The EC has proposed that the election be rescheduled for May, as it cannot make voting go smoothly because of the anti-government protests in Bangkok and some other provinces, especially in the South. The government disagrees and insists the election must be held on the original schedule, saying the Constitution does not allow for a new date or delay.
To push its case, the caretaker government has asked the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to cooperate with the poll agency to keep order during advance voting on Sunday, PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said after a special meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.
A state of emergency was imposed in Bangkok and its outskirts on Wednesday. The government set up the CMPO to take care of the situation. 
In a related development, caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday told the military’s top brass at a Defence Council meeting to instruct their subordinates to exercise their voting rights, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.
Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said he feared that after the election, lawsuits would be filed seeking its nullification because voting will fail to be held on the same day nationwide, as required by the law. 
Currently, there are no candidates registered in 28 constituencies in the South, which means elections for MPs in those constituencies cannot be held on February 2. 
Somchai, who made his comments while delivering election policies to Trang’s election authorities, also forecast more trouble ahead when advance voting takes place on Sunday. He said that if problems occur on the election day and ballots cannot be counted, the EC would not be able to announce the list of 125 party-list MPs as required by law.
All these difficulties and problems would make staging the election nearly impossible, and would lead to the election result being voided, he said. 
A senior election official in Trang said the grenade attacks in Bangkok and the emergency decree had had a big impact on voters in the South, where resistance to the election has intensified.

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