Question remains on proposed delay of Feb 2 election


BANGKOK, Dec 27 – Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) has expressed optimism on possible dialogue between conflicting parties to end political conflict and pave the way for general election on a suitable date.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, EC member for election administration, said there was sufficient time to find a resolution and understanding so that Thailand will have a fruitful and constructive election.

The EC yesterday urged the government to postpone the snap poll, scheduled for February, in light of unresolved political violence.

Mr Somchai said the EC has continuously assessed the political dispute and agreed that the election, though held as scheduled, would not solve problems in society and conflicting factions should hold talks to reach understanding and agreement.

Varathep Ratanakorn, minister of the PM’s Office/deputy agriculture minister, said the government has yet to coordinate with the EC but it believed that an election delay will contribute to more violence and unrest.

“If we have an election in 60 days, we will have new cabinet members and national legislators sooner,” he said.

He said the government has reiterated its support to a reform forum – a proposal that has been turned down by protesters, especially the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and the opposition party.

“Since the EC has offered to mediate, it should urge the PDRC to join (the forum),” said Mr Varathep.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said his group is waiting to see what the government and EC will do about postponing the February 2 general election.

He said the party-list candidacy registration, held at the Thai-Japanese sports stadium in Din Daeng yesterday, was unscrupulous as candidates were allowed to submit their documents before the official hour.

He said the PDRC stood firm on its original stand for national reform before an election is held.

“An election delay must be made to pave the way for reform, and not for the caretaker government to stay longer for its pre-election campaign,” said Mr Akanat.