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Reform Now urges delaying poll, offers 3 possible options

The Civic group, Reform Now Network (RNN), has urged the Senate and the Election Commission to consider a delayed election held in conjunction with a referendum on national reform as a "legal" way out of the political impasse.

Before the Senate concluded its plan to solve the crisis as scheduled yesterday, the RNN presented three options for the country to get out of the political impasse. They were:

l Proceed with the election on July 20;

l Delay the election for about four or five months to allow time for talks before having the election in conjunction with a country-wide referendum on national reform;

l Delay the election for at least a year to allow time for national reform before an election.

RNN member Buntoon Srethasirote, who explained the scenarios, said the second option may be the most promising although talks and agreement among all stakeholders would be the key to success.

Buntoon said there must be talks on adjusting the composition of the caretaker government and any interim government that would be in charge of national reform, as well as election rules and the mechanism and content of national reforms.

"The option that the two opposing sides can agree on is available and possibly legally. We want to make sure that these options are considered," Buntoon said.

The group said the challenge for the first option would be that the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) would oppose it and might obstruct another election, which could end up nullified like the February 2 election.

It said the challenge for the third option was uncertainty and the limitation on legislation as there is no House of Representatives at present and during the one-year reform period.

Explaining the legal possibilities involving the search for an interim prime minister, legal expert Santi Sathitpong said it was not a normal situation at the moment and the position would be different from a normal prime minister according to Article 171 of the Constitution.

Santi said a new prime minister would take the place of the current acting PM and be an interim premier according to Article 181 of the constitution. That was why the person selected would be able to take the post without being an MP.

"There have been no MPs since the House was dissolved," he said.

Santi said there was no such thing as a "PM according to Article 7 of the Constitution", as the Article only said that when facing a legal dead-end it should refer to how things had been done in the past.

Somsak Chunharas, moderator of the discussion, said the focus was not on finding a prime minister but how to have a peaceful election as soon as possible and get Thailand out of the political impasse.

Nevertheless, the RNN stressed that no matter who comes to power, the government must take national reform seriously as it had been widely agreed that Thailand needs this.

Former Democrat MP Rachada Dhnadirek, who was in the audience at the forum, wanted to know how it could be guaranteed the elected government would take national reform seriously when the election would take place at the same time as a national referendum.

She also referred to a proposal previously presented by her party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who proposed a referendum on reform before an election.

Yesterday's forum was the group's fifth "Thinking Platform" to overcome the deadlock crisis in Thailand.


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