Anx­ious politi­cians urge junta to lift ban on ac­tiv­i­ties

The Nation - - THAILAND -

THE BAN on po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties that the junta has used to con­trol the be­hav­iour of politi­cians, aca­demics and ac­tivists re­mains in place al­though the late King’s mourn­ing pe­riod has ended and the or­ganic law gov­ern­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties has been pro­mul­gated.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and De­fence Min­is­ter Gen­eral Prawit Wong­suwan yes­ter­day said the Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der (NCPO), the gov­ern­ing arm of the mil­i­tary junta, had not yet con­vened to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

“The Royal Cre­ma­tion Cer­e­mony has just fin­ished and we have not con­vened yet. Why do you have to de­mand that now?” Prawit said. “We have to con­sider it first. All this time there has been ac­tivism in many sec­tors that still stir up dis­or­der.”

The clock is tick­ing for politi­cians to com­plete ar­range­ments pre­scribed by the new or­ganic law on po­lit­i­cal par­ties that came into ef­fect early this month.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties must up­date their reg­is­tra­tion books within 90 days and col­lect an­nual mem­ber­ship fees within 180 days. Fail­ure to com­ply with the new in­struc­tions could make them in­el­i­gi­ble to field can­di­dates in the next elec­tion.

In the past cou­ple of days, politi­cians have pub­licly urged the NCPO to re­lax the ban on po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties now that the mourn­ing pe­riod has ended.

When the or­ganic law came into ef­fect in the first week of Oc­to­ber, the NCPO said the re­moval of the ban had to wait at least un­til the cre­ma­tion cer­e­mony was com­pleted.

Watana Muang­sook, a lead­ing mem­ber of Pheu Thai Party, wrote on Face­book yes­ter­day, slam­ming the junta for hav­ing no shame in say­ing it had not con­vened to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

The for­mer com­merce min­is­ter said that he would not call for any­thing be­cause the power be­longed to the peo­ple and the NCPO would not be able to re­sist it.

De­scrib­ing the junta ad­min­is­tra­tion as “in­ef­fi­cient”, Watana said it should stop play­ing for time and hurry to lift the ban to move the coun­try to­wards democ­racy.

Sathit Pi­tu­taecha, deputy leader of the Demo­crat Party, said he be­lieved it was now time to get back to the “road map to democ­racy” to­wards an elec­tion. His party, he said, was pre­par­ing to com­plete the ar­range­ments as re­quired by the new law.

Mean­while, Con­sti­tu­tion Draft­ing Com­mis­sion chair­man Meechai Ruchuphan said yes­ter­day that due to the to­tal lack of ap­pli­ca­tions for mem­ber­ship on the new Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC), the ap­pli­cant com­mit­tee might choose to ap­proach spe­cific, qual­i­fied peo­ple to fill the new board.

The ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod opened on Oc­to­ber 19 and will close on Novem­ber 10. No one has ap­plied so far.

Meechai said it is still pos­si­ble that can­di­dates could come for­ward be­fore the ap­pli­ca­tion clos­ing date. “We still have time to wait and see,” he said.

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