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Ex-CDC spokesman clarifies 150-day window to hold poll

Ex-CDC spokesman clarifies 150-day window to hold poll

MONDAY, January 07, 2019

A FORMER spokesman of the now-defunct Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), Chartchai na Chiangmai, yesterday confirmed that the 150-day period prescribed by the charter on holding the election only covers the casting of ballots, not the announcement of election results.

“The intention of the Constitution is that after the four election-related laws come into effect, the Election Commission [EC] must organise the poll within 150 days – that is by May 9. This period does not include the counting of votes or finalising the results,” Chartchai explained.
His statement comes in light of the current debate on the organisation of the election, which faces another delay after nearly five years of military rule. Authorities have cited the overlapping of the voting process with the royal coronation as grounds for a delay.
If the poll must be delayed from the tentatively scheduled February 24, pro-election groups want the election to take place on March 10, as suggested by the EC. This is to ensure that the announcement of results can be made within 150 days of the electoral laws taking effect, otherwise the election could be unconstitutional and voided. Others, meanwhile, have argued that the 150-day period prescribed in the Constitution was only for the voting process and not the announcement of poll results.
Uncertainty continues as to when the election will take place with the government yet to publish a Royal Decree in the Royal Gazette. 
According to law, the EC must announce the election date within five days of the issue of a Royal Decree.
Chartchai dubbed as a political game the argument that the poll result announcement is included in the 150-day period. Former EC commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn was among those making that case. A source in the defunct CDC said that Somchai was well aware of the intention of the Constitution. “He was in the meeting and we talked about this,” he said. “We all understood that the 150 days only cover the casting of ballots. The EC also acknowledged that.” 
However, protesters, political activists and some politicians are voicing their opposition to the delay, calling on the government to keep its word on a February election.
The pro-election camp argued that the EC could announce the poll results earlier than the given 60 days to prevent overlapping with the coronation.