EC to issue new election bill for 28 South constituencies after Feb. 2

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BANGKOK, 21 January 2014  Election Commission Secretary-General Phuchong Nuttrawong on Monday met with Interior Ministry Permanent-Secretary Wibun Sa-nguanphong, the governors of 15 southern provinces, representatives of the armed forces, the Education Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Education to discuss preparations for the February 2 general election. 

One of the main topics at the meeting involved lack of cooperation from many state agencies and personnel in the southern provinces. The agencies in question feared that lending their venues and personnel to the Election Commission for the hosting of the poll would attract the attention of anti-government protesters, and consequently put themselves in danger.

Mr. Phuchong also noted that the EC offices in 12 of 15 southern provinces were currently surrounded by protesters, and only the offices in the 3 Deep South provinces were functioning normally.

According to the provincial governors, several polling stations have no supervising officers, because the appointed officials have resigned due to pressure from the PDRC. The governors of Songkhla and Surat Thani admitted that elections might not be possible in their provinces on February 2, as they believed anti-government protesters would obstruct the polling on election day, similar to their interference during the candidate registration period.

BMA deputy permanent-secretary Banchong Sukdi reported that thousands of officials were still needed to man the polling stations in Bangkok. He attributed the shortage to the inability to appoint people who were not residents of the constituency where the polling station was located. The EC secretary-general promised he would seek a solution to this problem when he met with the EC commissioners. Mr. Phuchong told those at the meeting that after February 2, a separate election bill would have to be issued for the 28 districts in 8 southern provinces that did not have any running candidates. The election process for those constituencies would then be carried out similar to a by-election.