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Ruling on poll could ease crisis

Judges to hear case on wednesday whether February 2 election unlawful

A political breakthrough could happen this week with the Constitutional Court may rule on whether the February 2 poll was unlawful, and the possibility of a verdict annulling the election.

A petition requesting the Constitutional Court to rule on the validity of the poll was forwarded by the Ombudsman on behalf of Thammasat University's law lecturer, Kittipong Kamolthamwong, who claimed the election process was flawed because it was unfair.

The court is scheduled on Wednesday to hear the case, with the Election Commissioners, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the chief of Office of the Ombudsman, or their respective representatives, set to appear.

The Democrat Party expects the court to annul the election.

"If the verdict goes as we expect, it could be a starting point for both sides to hold negotiations to end the crisis," a key Democrat member said.

He said if the poll was nullified, the caretaker government and the EC would need to set a new election date and urge the Democrats to participate.

"But the only condition we have is the government has to resign as caretaker," he said.

"So the best way out is for Yingluck to resign to pave the way for a non-elected or neutral person to head the government and take care of the election."

After the election, the Democrat said the new government would initiate national reforms before dissolving the House and hold another election.

He said this solution would be acceptable to Pheu Thai if they thought they would win the election again.

However, he said his prediction hinged on the court verdict and the talks between the two sides.

A source from Pheu Thai echoed the same forecast.

He said he had heard that the court was likely to nullify the election on Wednesday and pave the way for a non-elected government.

However, a source from the charter court said the court had yet to decide if the ruling would be made on the same day as the hearing. However, if the judges thought they had all the facts, they might make a ruling on the same day.

In a previous case relating to the February 2 election that followed the filing of a petition by the EC, the charter court issued its ruling after three days.

The court had previously accepted another petition related to the general election filed by the EC.

One of the queries raised by the EC was whether a new Royal Decree would need to be issued for only the 28 constituencies that did not have candidates or for all constituencies.

If the court rules that a Royal Decree is needed for all the constituencies, then a new general election will be needed.

The court may include the EC petition in the Ombudsman's case.

Meanwhile, six independent agencies under the Constitution will present a road map and attempt to mediate between both sides of the political divide today.

The six agencies are the EC, the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Auditor-General, the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Economic and Social Advisory Council.

Red shirt co-leader Weng Tojirakarn voiced concerns over the move by the six organisations, saying it could worsen the political crisis or it could be a move to use judicial activism to topple the government.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said he had doubts that the move would lead to a non-elected prime minister.


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