Pheu Thai: Why delay vote till May 4?

national January 13, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Party wants EC to explain why later poll date would be preferable

Pheu Thai Party leader and caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said the government was ready to consider the Election Commission (EC)’s proposal that the election be postponed, but said the agency should state why it believed the election would go smoothly if it was held on May 4. 
“Has the EC gone to soothsayers, such as ET?” Charupong said in a reference to E Thi, Myanmar’s most famous fortune-teller.
Charupong said that legally, the election could not be postponed beyond February 6, as the election law stated it must be held within 60 days of a House dissolution. The only exceptions are in cases of disasters or riots, and only in the affected areas, not nationwide.
“If we postpone because of fears that there would be violence, it would set a bad precedent for future elections,’’ he said.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday submitted a letter to the EC to show the party’s stance that the poll must be held on Feb 2, since a budget of over Bt3.8 billion has been allocated for the agency to do this.
“The EC has continuously expressed reluctance to carry out its duty as if to respond to the [anti-government] People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s demands. The Royal decree to hold the general election has been endorsed by the King. If the EC does not carry out its duty, it will bring about disaster to the country and it must be held responsible,’’ he said. 
EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said yesterday the February 2 election would go ahead if the government did not back the idea that it be postponed to May 4.
Puchong was responding to reports that EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen on Friday requested the government issue a Royal decree to postpone the election, citing six reasons contributing to the possibility that the February 2 election might face disputes and obstacles.
Puchong said Supachai had already signed and sent the letter to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra formally requesting the government postpone the election. 
Yingluck told reporters she had not yet received the letter. 
The EC has prepared reserve offices in Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Chon Buri since its office at the government complex on Chaeng Wattana Road was taken over as one of seven protest sites of the PDRC. 
The five commissioners will hold meetings in a safe house if necessary.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy leader Sathit Pitutecha said he would tomorrow submit a request to the EC to investigate  Yingluck.
Sathit sought an investigation into whether Yingluck violated Article 181 of the Constitution and Article 53 of the Election Act by abusing state funds in holding seminars and awarding police with cash, allegedly in order to buy votes.
He said there were witnesses and circumstantial evidence such as documents supporting the claim, which could cause Yingluck to be banned from politics if found guilty.