Feb 2 poll still on, says EC

The Feb 2 general election will go ahead even if there are no candidates in eight provinces, the Election Commission insists.

The announcement on Friday by EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong ended speculation that polls might be put on hold as street rallies demanding reform before the election intensify.

Protesters have blocked candidate registration in 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces - Surat Thani, Krabi, Trang, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phuket.

The provinces are strongholds of the Democrat Party, which is boycotting the election.

In 347 constituencies in 69 provinces where there were no registration problems, voters will cast ballots for constituency and party-list MPs, Mr Puchong said.

Voters in the eight provinces that have no constituency MP candidates will vote for party-list MPs only, he added.

Whether a government can actually be formed after Feb 2 remains in doubt. The law requires the certification of 95% of the total 500 constituency and list MPs before a House of Representatives meeting can be convened. The absence of 25 or more MPs rules out this possibility.

Constituency candidate registration ended on Thursday and could not be extended, said Mr Puchong.

He also dismissed speculation that the five EC commissioners were planning to resign in order to make continuing preparations for the feb 2 election impossible.

The EC advised candidates unable to register due to the protests to lodge their complaints to the Supreme Court's Election Cases Division.

The EC held talks on Friday with political parties at the Government Complex on Chaeng Watthana Road about broadcast airtime to be slotted to them for campaign messages.

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