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Military could arrange ballots in areas marred by protests: Sodsri

Former Election Commission (EC) member Sodsri Satayathum has suggested that the military take over the EC's duty in managing the election in areas that were marred by protests and disruptions.

Sodsri spoke at a Senate committee forum yesterday on ways to try to resolve election problems. She said that her proposal could be possible by taking recourse in Article 236 of the Constitution.

She said all problems cited by the EC would be solved if it issues regulations or announcements allowing the military to do its job. The military has its own printing houses, which are able to print ballot cards. And it could also deliver ballot cards and boxes.

General Ekachai Srivilas, director of the Office of Peace and Governance at King Prajadhipok's Institute, agreed that the military could carry out the EC's role but suggested that they should not fully replace the EC.

"For instance if there are five EC officials, then only three military officials should be replacements to carry out the role of keeping peace and order and they should be unarmed,'' he said.

Meanwhile, EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said he would bring on board eight suggestions from the meeting on Monday for discussion today and see which ones are practical and legal. Supachai described the atmosphere at the last meeting of EC and Pheu Thai Party leaders and academics as amicable.

Today's meeting will decide if the EC can move forward election dates it had earlier scheduled on April 20 and 27, or not. It also needs to decide if it can fix the new election date (for seats in Bangkok and the South where people were unable to vote on February 2) - and hold it on the same day as the half-Senate election, on March 30.

Meanwhile, EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the agency expected to spend not more than Bt3 billion in holding the Senate election.

He said the EC had sought Royal approval for a Royal decree to hold the Senate election on March 30, but had yet to receive endorsement.


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