March 2 election rerun 'impossible'

The Election Commission (EC) is unable to hold poll reruns on March 2 to complete the Feb 2 general election, EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said yesterday.

Mr Supachai said the commission will meet Wednesday to consider suggestions and measures proposed at a meeting hosted by the EC on Monday.

The proposals were made by representatives of the caretaker government and pro-election academics who wanted the poll agency to complete the election process within 30 days of the Feb 2 poll, date or by March 4. They wanted the poll rerun on March 2 to keep within the deadline and sidestep any potential legal problems.

Mr Supachai said the EC will discuss if all the proposals comply with the law so the EC can implement them. But the EC cannot implement any proposals which are unlawful, he said.

However, Mr Supachai said the EC is unable to hold poll reruns on March 2 because it needs more time to prepare.

The EC chairman said the poll agency is required to follow the law in holding the election.

Participants at Monday’s meeting stepped up calls for the EC to complete the election process within 30 days of the Feb 2 vote.

The constitution requires that the House of Representatives must be convened within 30 days of a general election. At least 475 MPs, or 95%, is needed to convene the House.

The three-hour meeting on Monday focused on the seven points raised earlier by commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn.

They included registration of candidates in the 28 constituencies which had no candidates, the lack of election officials to supervise polling stations, and the blockade on delivery of ballot papers and ballot boxes to polling stations.

The date for poll reruns was also raised as another concern. The EC has set the advance voting rerun for April 20 and elections at polling stations which were hit by protests for April 27.

Mr Supachai yesterday brushed aside a move by Weng Tojirakan, a Pheu Thai party-list candidate and a co-leader of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, to lodge a lawsuit accusing the EC for dereliction of duty under Section 157 of the Criminal Code. Mr Weng has accused the EC of trying to delay the election process.

He insisted the EC has acted within the law and said if Mr Weng’s accusations are proven false, the EC will file a counter-suit.

Mr Supachai also said the EC was waiting for the caretaker government’s reply as to whether the government will agree to issue a new royal decree to hold elections in the 28 southern provinces.

The EC is ready to submit a request asking the Constitution Court to intervene if the government refuses to issue a new royal decree, Mr Supachai said.

The EC and the caretaker government have remained in a deadlock over who has the authority to set the new poll date for the 28 southern contituencies without candidates.

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