Poll 'guaranteed' before May 9

The government has insisted that the general election will take place within the 150-day deadline, or by May 9, while the Election Commission (EC) has reaffirmed its stance to set the poll date only after the royal decree takes effect.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Tuesday rejected suggestions that further delays may occur, saying this is not possible because, under the constitution, the election must be held within 150 days of the organic law governing the election of MPs taking effect, which took place on Dec 11 last year.

He also said that the authority to set the poll date rests with the EC.

However, the EC president, Ittiporn Boonpracong, said: "We don't have an election date model and we're waiting for the royal decree."

He also dismissed reports that the election will be postponed until March 10.

The constitution requires the EC to "complete" the election within 150 days of Dec 11, but the term "complete" does not specify "ballots cast" or "results announced".

In any case, the EC is confident of being able to announce the poll results within 60 days of an election date, as required, Mr Ittiporn said.

One way to avoid potential legal problems that could nullify the election and see EC commissioners slapped with future lawsuits would be to ask the Constitutional Court to issue a ruling on this now, politicians have suggested.

On this, Mr Ittiporn admitted it was a solution but a premature one: "If we [EC commissioners] agree on a date [that won't break both laws], we can proceed."

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said in mid-December the wording for the decree on the election was in the process of being submitted to the King, the last step before it is published in the Royal Gazette.

A possible delay in the election date, previously guaranteed for Feb 24, was initially floated last week.

Mr Wissanu said with the coronation date set for May 4-6, the EC might need to rethink the poll date so post-election activities won't overlap with the royal ceremonies taking place 15 days before and after that period.

The government suggested that March 24 might be more suitable.

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