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Election delay averted as push to amend EC bill withdrawn

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) member Mahannop Dechwitak yesterday said that he would stop pushing for an amendment to the already enacted Election Commission (EC) bill following criticism that the change would further delay an election.

Mahannop briefly stated that the matter should be left in the hands of the new EC board, that was officially appointed on Wednesday.
A source earlier this week said those who wanted to withdraw the amendment did not want to 
make the EC law too easy to amend in future. Legal amendments concerning independent organisations should be initiated by those organisations and not the legislators, said the source.
The tentative change has been in the headlines for weeks as the 75-year-old legislator organised a group of colleagues to propose the NLA revoke the bill’s regulation on local election inspectors in order to “create a free and fair election”.
The move was much criticised as the proposed change would infringe on the EC’s power in overseeing elections at the local level, and also result in a longer wait before the nation again headed to the polls.
Enacted last year, the EC bill is one of four organic laws that must be implemented prior to holding a general election. According to the 2017 constitution, the election must be organised by 150 days after the bills are in effect. Consequently, amending the EC bill would result in a delay before all organic laws were in place and the countdown to the election began.
Mahannop insisted that the proposal was not aimed at buying time for the junta ahead of the election.
The NLA President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai also noted that the idea was limited to only a small number of NLA members and not the legislative body as a whole.
“So, this couldn’t mean that we helped the National Council for Peace and Order to prolong the election timeline,” stressed the junta-appointed NLA president.

Published : August 16, 2018

By : Kanittha Theppajorn The Nation