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No Democrats at multi-party meeting on new election

The Phichit Election Commission prepares equipment that will be sent to ballot stations for the half-Senate election tomorrow.

The Phichit Election Commission prepares equipment that will be sent to ballot stations for the half-Senate election tomorrow.

Some 53 political parties that ran in the February 2 election want a new poll to be held 45-60 days after the election's nullification was announced in the Royal Gazette, Pheu Thai Party legal expert Bhokin Bhalakula said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting of representatives from the political parties, Bhokin said the Election Commission (EC) and the government should discuss who would issue an election decree, which would amend the House dissolution decree issued earlier.

The EC should meet with the parties in early April, he said.

Yesterday's meeting was held at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom.

The Constitutional Court nullified the election on March 21. Bhokin said it had yet to be discussed who would be responsible for the cost of the election that has now been nullified and whether the parties that contested it must submit expense reports to the EC.

He said anyone who obstructed the election must face legal action.

Asked whether the parties still trusted the EC, Bhokin said: "We have to accept [the agency], anyway."

It has been revealed that some Pheu Thai MP candidates were gathering signatures in an attempt to impeach EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn.

While key members of the Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana and Phalang Chon parties attended the meeting, no representative from the Democrat Party was present.

Meeting coordinator Suratin Picharn, the leader of the New Democracy Party, said he invited all registered political parties and learnt that Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had been in an accident. He had understood that a deputy party leader would come instead, but no one showed up.

Yesterday was the first day of the Democrat Party's two-day general assembly.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said the objective of yesterday's multi-party meeting was to gather information for the EC so it could learn from the mistakes of the February 2 election.

"We insist that the election must go ahead. If the EC says it is not ready or it wants more time, we have yet to consider what to do with the EC," he said.

"Today, we think only that there must be an election. Therefore, we have no thought about a back-up prime minister or 'neutral PM', because that's the way of thinking of those who don't support elections."

Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, the top leader of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, yesterday led PDRC supporters on a final warm-up march in Bangkok's Yaowarat area before a planned mass rally today to demand national and political reform ahead of the election.






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