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Senate can meet in April, says speaker

Three Bangkok candidates

Three Bangkok candidates

Nikom cites law that lets Senate to call special session despite absence of House

Newly elected senators can be sworn in when the Senate convenes a special session in April, even if the required 95 per cent of House members have not been elected due to protests and electoral disruptions, Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij said yesterday.

He said the law allowed the Senate to call a special session even though the House was dissolved, in order to appoint members of independent organisations.

The Senate would decide on endorsing a new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member to replace Jaided Pornchaiya, whose term is due to end when he reaches the retirement age of 70 on March 12.

Nikom criticised calls for him to step down as Senate speaker, saying they were politically motivated and not correct. He insisted he would stay in his post even though his term as a senator ended on Sunday. He said Article 117 of the Constitution stipulated that senators whose terms have ended can continue to hold their posts until new senators replace them.

Furthermore, Article 124 stipulates that the Senate Speaker should continue to hold his post until the day before the election date of the new Senate speaker. He said his intention to stay in his post was to uphold the Constitution's spirit, which aims to prevent the absence of a Senate speaker.

Nikom said it was not legally viable to seek a Constitutional Court ruling over the dispute about his post because there were no grounds to file the petition and there was no conflict of authority between state agencies. Also, there was no reason to petition the NACC to seek his impeachment.

Meanwhile, the first day of candidacy registration for the March 30 senatorial election went smoothly in 77 provinces yesterday.

In Bangkok, Election Commissioner Pol Lt-General Thaweesak Toochinda urged senatorial candidates to strictly abide by the election law, which limits campaign spending for each candidate to Bt5 million. A senatorial candidate is also banned from hiring more than 10 people in each Bangkok district to help with the election campaign.

In Phayao, two people failed to register their candidacies because one of them was a member of a political party and the other had quit a political party less than five years ago.

In Buri Ram, Karun Sai-ngam was the only candidate to appear on the first registration day. In Udon Thani, Arporn Sarakham, wife of hard-core red-shirt leader Kwanchai Praipana, registered her candidacy under the protection of 10 guards.






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