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EC and govt fail to agree on date for further voting

The Election Commission (EC) and government ministers failed to reach an accord yesterday on when a new round of voting should be held to fill remaining seats for MPs in the House of Representatives.

Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn met with some Cabinet members and legal advisers from the Pheu Thai Party to discuss problems stemming

from the February 2 election, which was marred by protests and disruptions.

Caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri and Pheu Thai legal adviser Kanin Boonsuwan suggested that the new voting must be held on March 2, or no more than 30 days after the election.

They cited the Constitution, which requires that the House of Representatives convene within 30 days of a general election to elect a new prime minister. Chaikasem said that the requirement must be met.

The meeting took place at the Novotel hotel in Muang Thong Thani.

In the February 2 election, there were no candidates in 28 constituencies, all of them in the South, and voting could not be held at more than 10,000 polling stations around the country.

Somchai said yesterday the EC would petition the Constitutional Court on Friday if the agency and government still fail to agree about the date of further voting.

He said the court was expected to make a ruling some time shortly before March 2, which would not leave the EC with sufficient time to prepare for new voting for the date nominated by the ministers.

"New voting on March 2 is certainly impossible now," Somchai said.

But it was possible that new voting would be held on March 30, the day on which the half-Senate election is scheduled.

Somchai described yesterday's meeting with Cabinet members and Pheu Thai legal experts as "one of the best" between the EC and the government.

He said that tomorrow the EC would provide answers in writing about problems in the February 2 poll.


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