South prepares for polls

PHETCHABURI — Re-elections in the South will be held gradually, starting from the most ready provinces, according to an election commissioner.

Each province will be evaluated and those which are ready will gradually hold the re-elections while those still facing opposition will have to wait for the conflicts to be resolved at the national level, said Somchai Srisuthiyakorn at a meeting here on Saturday.

A meeting will be called among 14 southern governors in Hat Yai, Songkhla province, on March 7 to weigh the readiness fo each province.

Surat Thani governor also said on Saturday the province is ready for the registration of senator candidates on March 4-8 with minimal obstacles.

Chatpong Chatbhuti said the senator election should go smoothly and reserve staff to man the units have been prepared to avoid the problem of staff resigning on the poll date like in the Feb 2 elections.

Virat Sommaluan, the provincial EC chairman, also confirmed the senator ballots should be no problem but foresaw opposition to the MP re-elections, which may need to be held 2-3 times to succeed.

Two have made public their desire to run for the senator seat — Thirayuth Iamtrakul, a former Surat Thani and Trang governor, and ACM Sujin Chamchoi, a former Wing 7 commander.

The southern province is home to 772,760 voters and 1,400 poll units. 

In Bangkok, the National Anti-corruption Commission's board resolved to pursue the case in which the Ratchathewi election officials had been accused of refraining from performing their duties.

The officials abandoned the election units on Feb 2, resulting in no election taking place in the district. 

Similar cases will be considered in both Bangkok and the provinces.

On Feb 2, five districts were closed to voters after anti-government protesters tried to prevent voters from exercising their rights. The five districts are Bang Kapi, Ratchathewi, Din Daeng, Laksi and Bung Kum.

Some districts closed some election units. They are Bang Khunthian (1 unit closed), Pathumwan (17), Pomprap Sattruphai (1), Phaya Thai (1), Suang Luang (1), Huai Khwang (1) and Bang Rak (28). 

In Rayong, election officials are confident of being able to hold MP re-elections tomorrow.

However, they have not set up tents for fear they will be destroyed by protesters, said Pol Lt Col Sommai Thanyalaksanakul, director of Rayong election commissioners.

The polls will be held in 27 election units to be manned by 300.

Fast-moving teams are prepared to supervise the polls and extra staff are prepared to replace those resigning on the spot like happened in the Feb 2 elections.

Police officers have been deployed to act as director of the units while non-commissioned officers and national park officials will be election officials.

He said one of the lessons learned from the Feb 2 elections is that teachers manning the stations had been fed false information that if the polls were nullified, they would be held accountable.

There were reports that there will be whistle blowers visiting some units, especially those in tambon Tapong.

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