EC asks to meet govt reps Feb 17

The Election Commission will invite government representatives to a meeting on Feb 17 to hear their opinions on how to complete the election as required by the constitution, commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said on Monday.

He said those to be invited to the meeting include caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana, caretaker PM's Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, Pheu Thai strategy committee member Pokin Polakul and former EC member Sodsri Sattayatham.

These people were expected to answer on behalf of the government questions about the many problems which beset the Feb 2 election, leaving it incomplete and many seats with no candidates.

The EC wants to hear from them how to get at least 475 MPs, or 95% of the 500 House members, elected within the required 30 days so that the House can convene and how to get the full number of 500 MPs within the required 180 days, Mr Somchai said.

He stressed that the EC wants their practical advice, not legal points of view.

The EC also wants to hear their opinions on how to appoint MPs under the party-list system, because it has not received votes from all polling units.

"Another question is what should we do in the event polling units are obstructed by people who do not want them to open," Mr Somchai said.

Mr Somchai, who is in charge of election management, said he also wants to hear from Mrs Sodsri, a former EC member, who had earlier said the EC was required to announce the voting results of the Feb 2 election within 30 days or risk breaking the law.

"The problem is we do not have the results of advance voting from some polling stations which were blocked by protesters.  If the EC holds a new round of advance voting and the polling units are blocked again, what should we do about this problem?" he said.

Mr Somchai said the opinions from the Feb 17 meeting would be taken for consideration by all five EC members.

He said the EC would not invite those who are opposed to the election to a meeting because their opinions had been fully heard and were clear.

As for the 28 southern constituencies where there were no candidates, the EC would send a letter to ask the government to issue a royal decree announcing a new election day.  The letter had been drafted and would be tabled at a meeting of the Election Commission on Tuesday, Feb 11, before being fowarded to the government for consideration.

If the government turned down the proposal, the EC might have to ask the Constituiton Court to give a practical guideline for all sides to follow without fear of breaking the law..

"I believed this would be acceptable to both the proponents and opponents of the election," Mr Somchai said.

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