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If polling nullified, EC should pay for the cost : govt

THE GOVERNMENT wants the Election Commission (EC) to take responsibility for the funds spent on the February 2 election, if the Constitutional Court rules to nullify the election.

The move comes after the EC sought a court ruling over whether a new royal decree is needed before holding elections in 28 constituencies that have no MP candidates.

If a new decree needs to be issued, it would need to be decided whether such a decree would call for elections in just those 28 constituencies, or declare new elections nationwide. The Constitution stipulates that elections must be held on the same day across the nation.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday that the EC must be held responsible for the loss of Bt3.8 billion in state funds for holding the February 2 election, should it be nullified.

Surapong said he would file petitions with the Office of the Auditor-General and the Comptroller General's Department to check if the EC spent the funds in a transparent manner.

He urged the EC to announce the results of the election in areas that had no protests or obstructions. He said the EC might risk legal action for dereliction of duty if it failed to announce the winners of the MP seats.

He added that the EC would face more legal complications if parties in the South took it to court for failing to hold the election in constituencies where registration failed.

EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said the EC sought a clarification from the court because if it did not, it might face complaints that it violated the charter for scheduling two poll dates.

"If the court rules it is not unconstitutional to have two election dates, the political impasse would be solved. If it rules that it is unconstitutional, we must hold a new election for all constituencies. We have to seek the court's ruling to prevent anyone from filing complaints to nullify the election," he said.

Somchai was not confident the EC could hold voting in the 28 constituencies on the senatorial election date, since it faced time constraints and the candidates needed time for campaigning. However, he was quite certain that the election in areas hit by disruptions on February 2 could be held on the same day of the senatorial election date. He added that five provinces were ready to hold voting on March 30.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit submitted a letter to the EC chairman, urging the agency to hold voting for the remaining constituencies on the same day as the Senate election date, since it would be convenient for voters, save costs and get rid of the political vacuum by forming a new government.

He said it was unlikely the People's Democratic Reform Committee would block the senatorial election because they wanted to take part in the poll.

If the EC agreed with the proposal, it should also remove its petition with the Constitutional Court over the 28 constituencies, he said.

Prompong said the party would present these proposals at a meeting held by the EC in Songkhla's Hat Yai district on Friday.


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