Election Commission asking court to postpone snap poll

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BANGKOK, Jan 22 – The Election Commission (EC) has unanimously agreed to seek the Constitution Court’s ruling on whether the general election, set for Feb 2, can be postponed.

EC secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said the court will also be asked if it is the power of the EC or the prime minister to reschedule the election.

He said all five EC members have signed the petition which will be submitted to the court today.

Mr Puchong said the EC will provide a chronological explanation including problems and obstacles in organising the Feb 2 election, starting from the House dissolution, party-list registration during December 23-27 which resulted in deaths and injuries, and the constituency registration on Dec 28-Jan 1.

There were no candidates in 28 constituencies in eight provinces while some constituencies had only one candidate, he said. The single candidate must win votes of at least 20 per cent of eligible voters.

Among 15 southern provinces, election offices could operate in only three provinces – Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The remaining offices were sealed off by protesters simultaneously with the seizure of provincial halls, said Mr Puchong, adding that 140,000 election workers must be posted at polling stations countrywide but the EC so far was able to recruit only 50,000 people.

He said the EC could not find locations for the advance elections in 15 provinces after the owners of 24 properties did not allow the EC to use their sites for the purpose.

“Even though we can find locations for the advance voting, we are not sure if the polling booths will be blocked,” said Mr Puchong.

He said Kurusapa printing house, which was hired to print election ballots, was seized, and power and water supplies cut, while Thailand Post has informed the EC that protesters have closed its headquarters on Chaeng wattana Road and several post offices.

Thailand Post was hired to deliver ballots to election constituencies throughout the country.

“The EC has encountered serious problems. Ballots for advance voting were seized in Chumphon and Phattalung. The EC will do whatever it can to deliver ballots to polling stations,” he said.