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Election set for July 20

Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen meets caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday to discuss the next election date.

Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen meets caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday to discuss the next election date.

Ec sets conditions for govt: says there must be no misuse of power; poll should be free from violence; Suthep calls three-stage final battle from May 5; Democrats in doubt if they will take part in poll

A NEW election is in sight as the government and the Election Commission have agreed to hold one on July 20.

However, the EC would have to amend its regulations to prevent the new election from being nullified, the commission's secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said. He added that the EC would meet next Tuesday to draft the Royal Decree for the election, which would be sent to the government for seeking royal endorsement.

The Constitutional Court earlier ruled the February 2 election unconstitutional because voting could not take place in 28 of 375 constituencies on the same day.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen, who met with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday, said the meeting went smoothly. He said the government agreed to all the proposals of the EC, which included that the election must be held only in a peaceful environment, and the EC might postpone polling in problematic areas.

"There must be no injury or loss in the new election," he said.

3 steps to victory: Suthep

Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), announced last night that he would launch a final mass battle on Coronation Day, which will be marked on Monday.

He called on PDRC supporters to wear yellow and gather outside the Emerald Buddha Temple at 5pm on the day to ceremoniously swear to work together for the good of the country.

He said the final battle would be divided into three steps:

l Make a sacred vow to do good on Monday;

l Make merit to rid the country of evil on Visakha Bucha Day on May 13;

l Launch "a people's operation" to oust the government on May 14.

Suthep also insisted yesterday that his group would not negotiate with bad figures and would continue pushing for national reform, without any links with politicians.

Democrat stance unclear

Yingluck posted on her Facebook page before the meeting that she hoped the election, which had been delayed for more than three months, would take place so that people could get the government they want soon.

During the meeting with Yingluck and the government's representatives at the Royal Thai Air Force Academy, Supachai said the EC also presented the results of its previous meetings with security agencies and political parties, including Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Despite the decision by the EC and the government, it was uncertain whether the Democrats, who boycotted the February 2 poll, would join in this time.

In a previous interview, Abhisit - who has offered to help find a solution to the political impasse - said that if the election date were set for July 20, there would not be enough time to implement his proposals, which would need more time.

He said that if Yingluck welcomed his initiatives, then she should not set the election date but should instead listen to his proposals and consider them.

EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said the government must ensure the atmosphere for a free and fair election, it must stay neutral as the caretaker government and must not abuse power for its advantage. The security agencies must provide support for the election by maintaining peace and order.

He also said the EC might postpone the election in problematic places where the balloting cannot take place properly. Meanwhile, the government must also deal with a possible situation where the House of Representatives may not be able to convene within 30 days of the election date.

Abhisit yesterday met with Palang Chon Party leader Sontaya Kunplome to lobby for support for his political-reform initiative.

After the 45-minute meeting, Sontaya and Abhisit held a joint press conference. Sontaya said he did not mind if the election were delayed to avert problems.

After meeting the Palang Chon leader, Abhisit said he would next compile the proposals of all parties with whom he had met and draw up a proposal for the public to consider.

Abhisit said details of his proposal would be made public well before May 20, the date on which it is expected that a new Royal Decree setting the election date would be signed.

He has so far met with leaders of the Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana and Bhum Jai Thai parties. He has also told the Election Commission that the electoral system should be reformed before the next election is held.

Abhisit said he would rush to compile the proposals because of the time constraints related to the next election.

He believes details of his proposals should be ready within two days and he would then consider whether to hold negotiations with the government and the PDRC.


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