Caretaker PM, Election Commission to discuss rescheduling snap poll

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BANGKOK, Jan 27 – Thailand’s caretaker prime minister and the country’s Election Commission (EC) chairman are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss the possibility of postponing the Feb 2 general election.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said he was informed that Ms Yingluck Shinawatra would meet him Tuesday at 2pm.

He said the EC will raise the issue of disruptions of the advance election at many polling stations yesterday, and proposed that the snap poll be delayed.

The caretaker government will be asked to issue a royal decree to postpone the election, he said, adding that all five EC members will join the meeting with the prime minister.

If the government insists on holding the election on Feb 2 as originally scheduled, the EC will go ahead despite knowing that the House of Representatives cannot be convened after the poll due to the lack of a quorum, he said.

The Lower House cannot be declared open unless the number of elected candidates reaches 95 per cent of the total Members of Parliament.

An agreement to postpone the election does not guarantee that the political situation will return to normal but it will at least cool down the political temperature, said Mr Supachai.

“We had informed the government twice about the political situation only to be told that it was the EC’s (overactive) imagination. Incidents during the advance election confirmed that it wasn’t our imagination. The violence did not escalate because we have instructed election officials to avoid confrontation.”

Caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said in his capacity as director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) that the advance election was disrupted because the EC did not seek security personnel from the CMPO.

Puchong Nutrawong, EC secretary general, said the EC has contacted the National Police Bureau and the military to dispatch personnel to maintain public order at polling stations.

“We sought cooperation through normal security channels. We did not contact the CMPO,” he said.

He said legal action will be taken against those impeding the advance election.