EC asks charter court to rule on polls

SONGKHLA - The Election Commission officially asked the Constitution Court on Wednesday to rule who has the authority to postpone the election scheduled for Feb 2.

EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, speaking the  southern province of Songkhla, said Suranee Pholthavy, chief of the EC secretariat, had submitted a document signed by all five commissioners to the Constitution Court, seeking a ruling on this issue.

The EC did not ask the court for an urgent decision.

The move is aimed at clarifying who has the authority to postpone the polls  after conflicting legal interpretations by the Election Commission, responsible for organising the polls, and the caretaker government. The caretaker administration has repeatedly said it has no authority to defer the Feb 2 election declared by royal decree.

The EC said in the documents that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has responsibility in this matter, including a new election through a royal decree.

While the EC is waiting for the ruling, it is continuing preparations for advanced voting scheduled for this Sunday.

A team of election officials is in Songkhla and has approached security authorities for the use of a Border Patrol Police camp in the province as a polling station on Sunday.

Local EC official Peerapong Pairin said he expected trouble on advance voting day, as it could be blocked by anti-government protesters, and did not rule out the possibility of violence.

A group of People's Democratic Reform Committee members based in the province met election officials demanding the polls to be scrapped to allow reforms to be put in place first.

About 14,000 voters have registered to cast their ballots in advance in Songkhla province.

Constitution Court spokesman Pimol Thampithakpong said the documents will be forwarded to the judges for a decision whether the court has authority to take up the issue. If they agree to accept the case, then it will move on to the ruling process.

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