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EC to push ahead with plan for poll

Posted by pakin On May - 5 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

To begin drafting decree for July 20 election, as Abhisit defends his proposal for interim govt

The Election Commission is pushing ahead with plans for a national election on July 20 and is set to draft a Royal Decree to begin the process, after a proposal by opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to end the political deadlock received a cool response.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said yesterday that the commission would meet tomorrow to draft the decree for a second poll.

If the draft was completed at the meeting, it would be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration on the same day, he said.

Asked if the EC wanted to comment on Abhisit’s proposal to delay the election to allow for national reforms to occur first, Supachai said the commission had not received the proposal and it was up to the government to decide on the matter.

“If the government has no other ideas, we will continue the process for the election as agreed upon earlier,” Supachai told reporters.

“I don’t know whether the election will go smoothly. Let’s see in the future. I don’t want to anticipate anything now.”

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which managed to derail the previous election in February, has vowed to block the July 20 poll as well.

The Democrats said they would not take part in the poll if Abhisit’s reform plan was rejected by the government.

The government has dismissed Abhisit’s proposal as unconstitutional.

Abhisit, a former premier, proposed a 10-step road map, beginning with delaying the election and setting up a non-elected government to take care of reforms before the poll.

Noppadon Pattama, a lawyer for former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, posted a message on his Facebook page criticising Abhisit’s proposal, saying it would not bring the country out of the political impasse as it was unconstitutional.

He said the proposal to have the caretaker PM and the caretaker Cabinet step down was contrary to the charter because they had to continue in their duties till the new PM and Cabinet replaced them.

The proposal for the Senate to select a neutral PM was also unconstitutional because the PM must come from a direct election and the Lower House was legally tasked with the duty – not the Upper House.

He said part of the Senate was not directly elected but appointed.

Noppadon said the proposal to adopt the PDRC’s reform plan was not fair since the public would be blocked from taking part in the process.

Abhisit’s proposal was one-sided because it did not include the government’s reform demands. The idea for an interim government to work for five to six months had no legal basis to support it.

“There is not any guarantee that the interim government will not stay longer than that. We cannot let the country be managed under such uncertainty.”

He suggested a constitutional solution to the impasse would be for every party to take part in the poll, every party propose a reform plan before the poll and a public referendum on reform to be held parallel with the poll.

After the election, a law would be passed to establish a reform council. The new government would serve six to 12 months before the House was dissolved and a snap election called.

Abhisit yesterday defended his plan, saying it did not contravene the Constitution or democratic framework.

If the plan was successfully implemented, there would be no violence, no coup and the monarchy and the courts would not be drawn into the political conflict, he said in a statement in which he asked for help for all stakeholders in the dispute.

“[The plan will only work] if Prime Minister Yingluck steps aside from power for only five or six months and the PDRC accepts other ways to reform,” he said.

Doubts voiced

Posted by pakin On May - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s proposal yesterday was met with doubt as politicians and academics said some of his suggestions were unconstitutional.

Chart Thai Pattana Party key member Somsak Prisananantakul said it would be difficult to implement the proposals and that Abhisit should keep his feet on the ground as some of his suggestions went beyond what is allowed in the Constitution.

“When you want us politicians to step back, we agree to do so, but don’t forget that the Constitution is non-negotiable. For instance, a PM must come from an election and has to be approved by the House. Today, when proposing something outside of the rules, how can Abhisit be sure that it will not be a waste or create problems, especially when people petition to the Constitutional Court?” Somsak said.

Anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) spokesman Akanat Promphan said some of Abhisit’s proposals matched PDRC’s push for national reforms before elections. However, this was the first time politicians had talked about finding resolutions and the PDRC had shown no sign of stopping its rallies.

PDRC co-leader Phra Buddha Issara said Abhisit had offered nothing new in his proposal and that the only way out would be returning the power to His Majesty.

Appointed Senator Kamnoon Sidhisa-marn said Abhisit’s proposal might offer a solution, but he did not think the government would accept it, especially in relation to a non-elected PM. The charter does allow for such a PM, but in case of a deadlock, the Senate Speaker can consider some options.

Meanwhile, Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, said yesterday that the Pheu Thai Party did not reject Abhisit’s proposals, but that the party’s strategic committee would need to look at them at its meeting on Tuesday.

However, caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang, caretaker Deputy PM Surapong Tovichakchaikul and ex-deputy House Speaker Samart Kaewmeechai attacked Abhisit’s request for PM Yingluck Shinawatra to quit, saying it was unconstitutional and against the democratic principle.

Legal expert Verapat Pariyawong said Abhisit’s proposal would go against the principle of the Constitution, which aimed for a stable government. Meanwhile, proposing that the government quit and the Senate Speaker pick a replacement, as well as have a referendum on the proposal conducted by agencies with no proper status violated the charter.

Proposing that the Election Commission or a court set a condition to dissolve political parties that fail to support national reform might also affect the administrative and legislative branches and go against the principles of the Constitution.

Democrats threaten to boycott poll

Posted by pakin On May - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Party will again stay out of election if Abhisit’s reconciliation proposal rejected

The Democrat Party will not contest the next election if a reconciliation proposal to be unveiled by its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva today is rejected by the parties involved in the ongoing political conflict, according to the party’s spokesman.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday that with the political conflict remaining unsolved and the country still in a state of deadlock, there was no point in the Democrats taking part in the election. “We will still be in the same spot, and we can’t move forward because the conflict still exists. There will be disorder. The Pheu Thai Party will bring about a bloody election. For what will the Democrat Party have taken part?” he said.

The Democrat spokesman asked the ruling Pheu Thai Party and caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to make it clear how they would make sacrifices for the country’s benefit. He criticised the premier for suggesting that Abhisit should not have set any conditions in regard to his reconciliation proposal.

The Democrat leader on Thursday had said that he would take a political break if his proposal aimed at finding a political solution were accepted by all the parties involved. Abhisit said this was to prove that he would not benefit from his own proposal.

Chavanond yesterday expressed suspicion that Yingluck might be attempting to protect the interests of herself, her family and her party.

He said turning down Abhisit’s proposal would mean the politicians involved were failing to sacrifice their own benefit for the country’s interest. “We will see who are politicians, and who are the election experts,” he added.

The next election has been tentatively scheduled for July 20. The previous voting on February 2 was declared void by the Constitutional Court, as it was not held on the same day in the entire country, which was against the Constitution.

The Democrats had boycotted the February poll on the grounds that it was being held at a time when conflict still existed.

Meanwhile, Abhisit has met a number of top politicians and senior bureaucrats to gather their ideas as to how the Kingdom could be brought out of its destructive political crisis.

He has called a press conference at the Sukosol Hotel this morning to unveil details of his proposal.

The Democrat leader yesterday said the government was ignoring a way out of the crisis by insisting on going ahead with the July 20 poll.

Pheu Thai has belittled Abhisit’s offer to take a political break if his proposal is accepted.

Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that Abhisit had attached a condition to his pledge to take a political break simply to boost his image, although the former PM was aware he would have a qualification problem that would prevent him from becoming an election candidate.

He said Abhisit’s retroactive dismissal as an Army personnel member would disqualify him from contesting an election.

Pheu Thai’s former defence minister Sukampol Suwannathat approved the retroactive dismissal of Abhisit for allegedly using a falsified military draft document to apply for the post of lecturer at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, an allegation rejected by the Democrat leader.

Prompong also urged the Election Commission to issue no later than May 6 a Royal Decree calling the next election, and not by May 8 as has been planned by the agency.

Meanwhile, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan yesterday cancelled a gathering of government supporters in Nakhon Pathom, which had been scheduled to take place on Monday. He has called a mass rally of the red shirts on May 14, the same day that the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee plans to hold its own mass gathering.

Abhisit offers to skip next election

Posted by pakin On May - 2 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva announced on Thursday he will not stand for election if all sides accept his proposal for reform, to show there is no hidden agenda in his campaign to talk all sides into ending the political deadlock.

”Let me announce my clear position. If all sides accept my proposal, I will not run in the next election,” he said in a statement.

He was taking this stance to demonstrate his determination to support reform, with no desire for any political position.

He did not say whether his party would contest the polls.

The Democrat Party leader also questioned the latest move to organise a general election on July 20. He said an election called amidst conflict would not provide the answers to the political problem.

“The options offfered by the government or the PDRC (People’s Democratic Reform Committee) could lead to clashes between people. I am of the view that all these options are risky and are not the answer for Thailand,” he said. To pursue this course would lead to loss of life, he warned.

Conflict tensions heightened on Wednesday after it was announced a new election is scheduled for July 20, with the PDRC’s call for a new major rally being countered by a planned demonstration by  the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

The new date for the general electrion was agreed at talks on Wednesday between the Election Commission (EC) and the caretaker government. The EC will draft a royal election decree, which needs approval by the caretaker cabinet before it is sent to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Wednesday declared the anti-government movement’s final battle with a major rally to begin on May 14.

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan countered with a call for a new rally on May 5.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra also faces a court decision crucial to her political fate.

The Constitutional Court will rule on her legitimacy as prime minister following the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling in March that the order transferring Thawil Pliensri from the position of secretary-general of the National Security Council to an inactive post as prime minister’s adviser was unfair and unjustified.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will also decide whether she should take responsibility for the loss-making rice-pledging scheme as she chairs the National Rice Policy Committee.

Mr Abhisit criticised the government’s push for a quick general election as a desperate attempt to prolong its hold on power.

A new election should not be held until all conditions are right, he said. It must be free and fair, acceptable to all parties, and lead to the formation of a new government and a new House of Representatives. The present situation was clearly not favourable for that outcome.

The Democrat leader is in the final stage of his bid to convince all sides to accept his proposal, which includes reform and a late poll, with the ruling by the court and the NACC decision expected before mid-May.

He said that reform was the key to move the country out of crisis. It must be carried out ”immediately”, but could not be completed before planned new elections.