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Pheu Thai smells a 'trap' in EC bid for new decree

The ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday expressed suspicion that a move by the Election Commission (EC) to get the government to issue a new Royal Decree for a new voting date may be a "political trap".

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said that the Cabinet no longer has the power to issue such a decree, as it is now in a caretaker role following the dissolution of the House of Representatives in December.

"This is the duty of the EC. Their attempt to pass the duty to the government may have some political implication. This could be a trap. The government's political rivals may sue the prime minister," the spokesman said.

The EC on Friday resolved to propose that the caretaker government seek a new Royal Decree for a new poll date for 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces that had no candidates in the February 2 election.

Pheu Thai's legal experts asserted yesterday that the government has no legal power to seek the proposed decree.

Legal expert Bhokin Balakula, who is also a member of the party's strategic committee, blamed the EC for the problem involving the absence of registered candidates in the 28 constituencies. He said the EC had the power and the time to extend the candidacy registration period but it failed to do so before last Sunday's election.

"The prime minister and the Cabinet have no power or duty regarding the election after issuing the Royal Decree to set the election date. The current decree is still completely effective. To issue a new decree, which is not empowered by the Constitution, could risk violating the law and that is inappropriate," Bhokin said.

He also said that issuing a new decree could put the government at risk of facing legal action. He added that someone might petition the Constitutional Court asking for the February 2 election and the new decree be declared void. "There will be a lot of negative consequences after that," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana said yesterday that the government has no duty to issue a new decree. He added that he believed the current decree was still effective, so the EC should go on with scheduling a date for new voting in the 28 problematic constituencies.

Opposition Democrat Party spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut yesterday urged the government to bring the case to the Constitutional Court for a ruling whether the February 2 election was void. This would allow a new election process to start, he added.

"Yingluck Shinawatra, as the caretaker prime minister, and her Cabinet must take responsibility. They should determine if a new Royal Decree is required for new voting," the spokesman said.

EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday that a new voting for the MPs would not be held next month, as it would be too close to the senatorial election tentatively scheduled for March 30.


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