Govt, Pheu Thai agree to meet EC

The caretaker government and the Pheu Thai Party have agreed to meet the Election Commission (EC) next week to discuss how to complete the Feb 2 election.

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EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, in charge of managing the polls, said the government and the Pheu Thai Party have assigned nine people to attend the planned meeting on Feb 17.

The representatives include Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana, PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, and Pheu Thai strategists Pokin Polakul and Chusak Sirinil.

Mr Somchai said that election officials in 28 constituencies in the South where there were no candidates will also join the planned meeting.

“The talks will proceed in a friendly atmosphere and offer solutions to the stalemate,” he said.

He said that any of the participants who are hostile will be asked to leave the meeting.

The EC is struggling to complete the Feb 2 snap election which was disrupted by the anti-government protests.

One of the problems involved 28 constituencies in the southern provinces which have no candidates as the anti-government managed to block the venues for candidacy registration.

The poll agency has proposed that the caretaker prime minister seeks a royal decree to specify dates for additional candidacy

registration and voting in the 28 constituencies. The EC claims it no longer has the authority to specify a new date for new candidacy registration for those constituencies.

The law states clearly that the registration must be completed within 20 days from the day the royal decree for the Feb 2 poll took effect, which means the candidates needed to have registered by Dec 29 last year.

However, the proposal has been with heavy criticism from the Pheu Thai Party and

the would-be candidates, while the

government has yet to respond to the call citing many legal questions over the matter.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday called on the EC and the caretaker government to ask the Constitution Court to rule on the issue.

He said that since both parties could not agree who has the authority, they should seek a judicial review.

“It is time for the EC and the caretaker government to find a way out for the country. If they have a disagreement, it should refer the issue to the Constitution Court to make a ruling,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group of 29 Pheu Thai candidates who failed to register for the election yesterday filed a complaint against five election commissioners for alleged abuse of authority.

In the complaint, lodged with the Crime Suppression Division, the group said the EC deliberately stalled efforts to solve the election problems and failed in its duty to hold a fair and transparent election.

The group claimed they sent a letter to the EC to explain the situation as to why they could not register for the poll and also asked the EC to extend the election registration period.

However, the poll agency decided not to extend the period and suggested they bring the case to the Supreme Court’s Election Division. According to the Pheu Thai members, the court threw out the petition because it is the EC’s duty to register candidates and ensure the registration process proceeds without disruption. The complaint was accepted for consideration.

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