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Prawit admits election may be delayed ‘if risk of damage’


THE GOVERNMENT could delay holding an election if it would cause damage to the country, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday.

He said the plan to hold the next general election in 2017 remained intact, but he did not rule out factors that could lead to a delay.
“The situation changes by day and by month. If we can hold an election, we will. If an election cannot be held, why should we insist on holding one and then cause damage?” Prawit said.
Prawit, the deputy chief of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said he did not presently see any factors that could result in changes to the “road map for a return to democracy”. 
His remark came after speculation that the election, which is expected to take place late next year or early in 2018, will be put off following King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing.
Prawit said the government had not announced any changes to its road map, adding that the media was stirring up the issue.
Meanwhile, Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan said yesterday that the writing of the 10 organic laws in line with the charter was advancing in line with the schedule set by the road map. But the election date would be determined by the Election Commission, he added.
He also said the organic law on political parties would result in substantial changes in the operation of parties, which would have to adapt accordingly. The election could not take place until parties had adopted the new rules, he said.
The CDC had initially given political parties 150 days to reorganise their membership systems, Meechai said, adding that if they fail to do so, the deadline could be extended by up to three years. However, parties would not be able to field candidates for the next election until the membership system changes are completed, he said. 
“The law will lay out everything political parties must do and when to do it in order to adapt to the changes. However, the CDC will also soon listen to opinions from politicians to see whether the time given is sufficient or not, as well as how to adjust it,” the chief charter writer said.
In a related development, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was not worried about the road map because he saw that the government was still adhering to the plan. 
However, he called on the NCPO to relax the post-coup ban on the assembly of political parties. 
He said political parties also needed to work on policies that would help people, adding that |he could accept it if the junta still limits activities such as political speeches that could lead to |demonstrations.

Published : November 24, 2016

By : THE NATION