Red Shirts threaten lawsuit against Election Commission

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BANGKOK, July 28 – Key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirts, on Thursday threatened to file suit against the Election Commission (EC) for dereliction of duty if the poll agency fails to endorse top Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan as a member of parliament by the end of this month.

Natthawut Saikua, now a new Pheu Thai party-list MP, announced the UDD stance after visiting fellow Reds, Mr Jatuporn, now being detained on terrorism charges at Bangkok Remand Prison.

Some Red Shirt supporters also turned up at the prison to show their moral support for the detained protest leader.

The EC on Wednesday endorsed 94 more MPs-elect, including all elected Red Shirt candidates, except Mr Jatuporn, 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 session next Monday.

Defending the delayed endorsement of MP status for Mr Jatuporn, the No 8 party-list candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, the EC said more time is needed to consider whether he had lost his party membership as he failed to exercise his right to vote in the July 3 election.

Mr Natthawut said the red shirt respects the work of the election agency and will not mobilise crowds to pressure the EC during this period.

“But if the House of Representatives opens and the EC does not endorse MP status for Mr Jatuporn, (the UDD) will assign its lawyer to file a lawsuit against the commission for dereliction of duty,”  Mr Natthawut warned.

“The move is not to pressure the poll agency but it is a legal fight similar to that of the Democrat Party which earlier said it would file a complaint against the EC if the MP status of elect UDD leaders is endorsed,”   the new lawmaker said.

Mr Natthawut cautioned that the country situation is sensitive that any political move should be taken cautiously so that the country can move forward.

UDD acting leader Thida Thavornsreth disclosed after visiting Mr Jatuporn that the detainee remains in good spirits, adding that elect Red Shirt leaders earlier endorsed by the EC will wait until July 31 for the endorsement of MP status for Mr Jatuporn so that the group will report to Parliament together for MP registration.

Meanwhile, prime minister-to-be Yingluck Shinawatra expressed confident that the UDD will not mobilise its supporters to pressure the poll agency, saying she believes the EC would treat everyone fairly.

Ms Yingluck added the Pheu Thai legal team has already submitted all information about Mr Jatuporn’s case to the EC and it may take some time to complete its review.

Regarding the candidate for new House Speaker, Ms Yingluck stated she already has the name in mind, but the final decision will be made at the party meeting in August.

EC Secretary-General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn later said when the commissioners met Thursday they assigned a sub-committee to ask Pheu Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit to verify the membership status of Mr Jatuporn and report to the EC meeting on Friday.

The EC’s five commissioners will decide on Friday whether to endorse the Mr Jatuporn as an MP.

The Friday meeting is expected to be the last in the 30-day timeframe for endorsements before the first House of Representatives meeting.

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.