The Nation



Dialogue essential to ending conflict: EC

The Election Commission (EC) has expressed optimism that dialogue between conflicting parties would end the political conflict and pave the way for a general election on a suitable date.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, EC member for election administration, said there was sufficient time to find a resolution and understanding, thus allowing Thailand to hold a fruitful and constructive election.

The EC yesterday urged the government to postpone the snap poll, scheduled for February, in light of the unresolved political crisis.

Somchai said the EC was continuously assessing the political dispute and agreed that the election, should it be held as scheduled, would not solve problems in society and conflicting factions should hold talks to reach understanding and agreement.

Varathep Ratanakorn, minister of the PM's Office/deputy agriculture minister, said the government has yet to coordinate with the EC but it believed that a delay in the election would contribute to more violence and unrest.

"If we have an election in 60 days, we will have new cabinet members and national legislators sooner," he said.

He said the government has reiterated its support for a reform forum - a proposal that has been turned down by protesters, especially the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and the opposition party.

"Since the EC has offered to mediate, it should urge the PDRC to join (the forum)," Varathep said.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said his group is waiting to see what the government and EC will do about postponing the February 2 general election.

He said the party-list candidacy registration, held at the Thai-Japanese sports stadium in Din Daeng yesterday, did not proceed according to the rules, as candidates were allowed to submit their documents outside the official hours.

He said the PDRC stood firm on its original stand for national reform before an election is held.

"There must be a delay in the election to pave the way for reform, not for the caretaker government to stay longer and conduct its pre-election campaign," Akanat said.

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