Rangsiman Rome, a leading figure in the Pro-Election People Group, said that the next election was likely to be postponed from February next year after the Constitutional Court accepted a petition seeking a verdict on the constitutionality of certain organic laws. “Nobody knows when the election will take place. It is unlikely to be held soon. People who want to vote will still go ahead with our plan and we are ready to hold our big rally in mid-May,” Rangsiman said.
“We want to see a political atmosphere that is free and fair. People should be allowed to make decisions for themselves. There should be no censorship or control on political parties. This is our proposal,” the 25-year-old graduate student added. Following mounting domestic and international pressure, junta leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha in February announced that the next election would take place “no later than” February 2019.
Rangsiman, who also leads the Democracy Restoration Group, is among more than 40 activists charged with committing sedition, violating a junta ban on political gatherings of five or more people, and breaking the law against public assembly. The charges are punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years. The activists in early February held a street protest near the Democracy Monument that drew a large crowd. The young activist went to the Criminal Court yesterday to hear the indictment and give his testimony regarding the case against him and other protest leaders. He was the only defendant in the case to be placed in detention, but later requested and got bail for Bt50,000, with no conditions set.
He told reporters at the court that the activists charged in the case believed they had done nothing wrong.
“We did what we did with honest intent. We do not believe that it is an offence to call for an election. If it is illegal to call for an election, I wonder if there will be an election again in Thailand,” Rangsiman said. In a Facebook post, the activist wrote: “After reading the indictment, I wonder what wrongdoing I did.”
Published : April 27, 2018
By : THE NATION