EC warms up to Abhisit's ideas for election reform

national April 30, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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EC to consider Democrat's proposals and pass them on to PM today

The Election Commission (EC) yesterday agreed to take into consideration the proposal of Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to reform the electoral process before holding an election. However, both sides remain concerned whether an election could be held while the political impasse continues. 
The Democrat leader yesterday led key party members to meet the poll body to propose a solution to end the country’s prolonged political conflict.
EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said Abhisit had proposed eight points to the EC about how to reform the election mechanism to hold a fair, smooth, and peaceful poll in order to convince voters to cast their ballots.
Abhisit’s proposal was in line with that of EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, who is in charge of election management, Puchong said. 
“We agree that we have to review election regulations or announcements, which have been proposed by Somchai as well,” Puchong said. 
The eight proposals have not been revealed to the public though the EC said it would consider them. 
According to Puchong, Abhisit has proposed that the EC issue regulations to penalise politicians or parties who fail to deliver policies promised in their election campaign. For example, their electoral rights could be revoked if they failed to deliver, he said. 
Abhisit has proposed that the EC consider issuing yellow or red cards to candidates within 30 days after the election day, instead of within one year according to the current law. Otherwise it would be difficult to take legal actions against them when they had already taken a political post for a while, he said. 
Abhisit said the EC would pass on his proposals to the caretaker government when the EC was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today.
“I want to make a plea to the premier to consider my initiative and not rush into holding an early election without having a solution on how to reform the country,” he urged.
“The EC and I agree that the current atmosphere makes it difficult for the EC to hold a complete election. Although the EC thinks they can hold a lawful election, there is also concern if the House of Representatives could be convened for its meeting,” Abhisit said. “If we can’t find a common ground [between the stakeholders before holding an election] the country will remain in stalemate. An election will create more problems. People would rather accept a poll delay,” he said. 
Asked if his party members would contest the next election if others agreed with Abhisit’s proposal, he said he has to make his party accept it, too. Abhisit said he would conclude his proposals and reveal them to the public by this week. Before the meeting, Supachai said he personally believed Abhisit’s move could possibly break the impasse and lead to a smooth election. 
Abhisit later met former prime minister and chief adviser to the leader of Chart Thai Pattana Party, Banharn Silapa-archa, and the Chart Pattana Party’s chief adviser Suwat Liptapanlop.
After meeting Banharn, Abhisit told a joint press conference that both agreed the political situation is overwhelmed with conflicts and letting the problems fester would cause damage to the country. Banharn said his party was waiting and watching the situation, including the decisions and movements of the EC, which is legally obliged to hold and be responsible for the election.
The party has not proposed any solution but has no problem if the EC decides to hold an election on July 20, he said. His party, in the meantime, would give moral support to Abhisit and hoped that the country would return to peace. 
Yingluck, on Monday, urged all parties to give moral support to Abhisit in his efforts to break the political deadlock. She said the public should spare Abhisit scepticism over his sincerity and give the opposition leader the encouragement he needed to help him in his efforts. 
However, anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Monday night rejected all attempts to hold talks to resolve the political impasse and have an election. He asserted that there would be no talks with ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, and they should be overthrown and banished from the country. Suthep said he rejected all these mediation attempts and any proposal for a national government, except a people’s government.

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