Election Commission chief fears violence during absentee voting on Jan 26

national January 11, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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ELECTION COMMISSION chairman Supachai Somcharoen has voiced concern over possible chaos or violence during the advance and absentee voting on January 26.

Meanwhile, election directors in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Krabi said they were pressured both by the community and their job, and they lack most election officials they need to work on the day.
At a meeting of officials from around the country to check readiness for the upcoming poll, Supachai said they need to prepare to facilitate the voters and to prevent obstruction of their work.
Supachai voiced concern that MP candidate registration could not be done in 28 constituencies and that a further blockade was likely on January 26. He told officials to try to ensure a free and fair election with no violence. 
Election director in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Warothai Naewbantad, said his family was also pressured as protesters believed that if they pressured him the poll could not be staged. 
Moreover, 95 per cent of staff positions for poll units were still vacant and many government officials refused to use their buildings as election venues, he said.
Krabi election director Sompong Tangrerk said officials felt lost and deserted to solve problems on their own. They were pressured by the governor and police to change the MP candidate registration venues but refused to do this, as it was the central EC’s authority to decide. 
The number of election staff was uncertain. He had to beg staff not to resign. Meanwhile, he requested officials from the Interior Ministry, police or the military to help if they could.
No MP candidates were able to register in 28 constituencies in eight provinces in the South. None applied in Krabi and four other provinces while candidates only registered in some constituencies in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket and Chumphon. 
Meanwhile, Khon Thai Party leader Utain Shartpinyo asked the Supreme Court yesterday to revoke candidacy registration held by the EC and order the February 2 election to be suspended or postponed. He cited the possibility of violence and difficulty making the election free and fair.
Separately, a lawyer for red shirts Arisman Pongruangrong and Jaran Ditapichai and former Pheu Thai MP Thaworn Triratnarong petitioned the Supreme Court to rule on whether they were qualified to be candidates after the EC refused to endorse them, saying they failed to vote in the previous election.

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