ECBANGKOK, July 28 — Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday endorsed 94 more MPs-elect, excluding Red Shirt core leader Jatuporn Prompan; bringing the total number of endorsed MPs to 496, more than 95 per cent of total 500 seats, to open way to convene the first House sitting which is now scheduled to take place on Monday, Aug 1.
Before the Wednesday announcement, the EC had certified the status of 402 MPs.
The Constitution states that at least 95 per cent or 475 of the full complement of 500 MPs must be endorsed before the House of Representatives can be convened. The new parliament must meet within 30 days of the July 3 election to select a house speaker, and then has another 30 days to pick a prime minister.
EC Secretary-General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn told reporters after the EC five commissioners ended their meeting late Wednesday evening that the poll agency had endorsed the parliamentary status of almost all the remaining winning candidates for MP.
Only four seats were still suspended including that of Mr Jatuporn, the core leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirt movement, who is now detained at Bangkok Remand Prison.
The two seats would be known after the new election on Nong Khai Constituency 2 and Sukhothai Constituency 3 on July 31 as the EC issued ‘yellow cards’ to winning candidates who were charged for violating the election law by buying votes.
Another seat waiting for results from a ballot recount in the southern province of Yala’s Constituency 2 on July 31 after a Pheu Thai candidate who lost to the Democrat candidate lodged a complaint about alleged irregularities concerning wrong tallies, extra ballots were being provided to eligible voters and vote counting at polling stations not matching the voter turnout.
Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Sodsri Satayathum told reporters that the agency voted 3-2 to suspend the endorsement of Mr Jatuporn as it needed more time to consider whether the candidate had lost his membership in the Pheu Thai Party as he failed to exercise his right to cast the ballot on election day on July 3.
No date has been set to vote on Mr Jatuporn’s case.
As for the other two UDD leaders — Natthawut Saikua, Payap Pankate and Bhumjaithai winning candidate Porntiva Nakasai who won endorsement, Mrs Sodsri said that the elections agency was not clear regarding the complaints and would investigate them later due to time constraints.
If the candidates were later found guilty of violating the election law, the EC would forward the case to the Supreme Court to consider giving them ‘yellow card’ or ‘red card’ later.
In related developments, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has issued a royal decree to open Parliament on Aug 1.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will represent the monarch to preside over the opening of the first House session at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall at 5pm.