Ruf­fled by protests, govt en­gages public

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - AEKARACH SATTABURUTH

The gov­ern­ment will ex­plain why the elec­tion is be­ing de­layed ev­ery time a rally is held de­mand­ing the regime stick to its roadmap, a spokesman said yes­ter­day.

Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkam­n­erd said Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha has or­dered agen­cies to clar­ify to the public that the gov­ern­ment is not de­vi­at­ing from its plan on pur­pose.

Gen Prayut, also head of the Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der (NCPO), promised ear­lier the poll would take place this Novem­ber but spec­u­la­tion is mount­ing it will be de­layed by sev­eral months pend­ing ap­proval of two or­ganic laws.

He said both the regime and ac­tivists de­serve to have their voices heard.

Groups of anti-gov­ern­ment ac­tivists ral­lied near the Democ­racy Mon­u­ment in Bangkok on Satur­day, and a group in Chi­ang Mai ral­lied yes­ter­day, call­ing for the elec­tion to be held by Novem­ber.

Some of the protest lead­ers are fac­ing charges for ig­nor­ing a long­stand­ing ban on po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings of over five peo­ple.

But they vowed to con­tinue the ac­tiv­i­ties to pres­sure the gov­ern­ment into hold­ing the elec­tion in a timely man­ner. They did not give any de­tails or dates.

A bill on MP elec­tions is one of two or­ganic bills that have yet to be passed be­fore the poll can be held. Two oth­ers have al­ready been ap­proved.

The Na­tional Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly [NLA] panel that vet­ted the MP bill agreed last month to a pro­posal that it should only take ef­fect 90 days af­ter it ap­pears in the Royal Gazette.

“The roadmap re­mains the same. It’s just that the NLA agreed with the pro­posal [to de­fer it by 90 days],” the gov­ern­ment spokesman said.

“The premier un­der­stands it must take ef­fect within 90 days,” he said. “There is no link be­tween this and claims that the gov­ern­ment or NCPO want to stay in power longer.”

A tri­par­tite com­mit­tee com­pris­ing mem­bers of the NLA, Con­sti­tu­tion Draft­ing Com­mit­tee and Elec­tion Com­mis­sion is ex­pected to be set up to­day to ac­cel­er­ate mat­ters af­ter the three agen­cies failed to agree on the bill.

The com­mit­tee will have 15 days. If it can­not agree, the bill may be re­drafted.

NLA vice-chair­man Su­rachai Lieng­boon­lertchai said only con­tested parts can be changed.

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