New cab­i­net to be in of­fice by June if polls held in Feb

ELEC­TION DATE TO BE OF­FI­CIALLY AN­NOUNCED AF­TER LAW ON MP ELEC­TIONS TAKES EF­FECT NEXT MONTH: WISSANU

The Nation - - FRONT PAGE -

A NEW CAB­I­NET is ex­pected to as­sume of­fice by June next year, though the junta will re­tain full pow­ers un­til the new gov­ern­ment is sworn in, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wissanu Krea-ngam said yes­ter­day.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC), mean­while, is ex­pected to hold the na­tional elec­tion on Fe­bru­ary 24, though it can only make the an­nounce­ment af­ter the law on MP elec­tions goes into ef­fect next month, Wissanu added.

He ex­plained that the date of the polls could not be brought for­ward be­cause a lot of prepa­ra­tions needed to be made.

“So far no other dates have been men­tioned [by rel­e­vant agen­cies for the na­tional vote],” he added.

He was speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence at Gov­ern­ment House.

Wissanu, who is in charge of the gov­ern­ment’s le­gal af­fairs, said that af­ter the or­ganic law on MP elec­tions takes ef­fect on De­cem­ber 11, an elec­tion must be held within 150 days or lat­est by May 9.

If the elec­tion is held on Fe­bru­ary 24, then the EC will have to an­nounce the re­sult within 60 days, or no later than April 24, and the new Par­lia­ment will have to be con­vened within 15 days, or no later than May 8.

Af­ter that, the new prime min­is­ter will be se­lected, who will then ap­point his or her Cab­i­net. As soon as the new Cab­i­net is sworn in be­fore the HM the King, the cur­rent Cab­i­net and the NCPO will cease to ex­ist, ac­cord­ing to Wissanu.

“The new Cab­i­net will have to an­nounce its poli­cies to Par­lia­ment within 15 days of be­ing sworn in, which should hap­pen in June 2019,” he said.

As for the in­cum­bent min­is­ters, Wissanu said they would need to re­tain their po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity and avoid us­ing their po­si­tion to ben­e­fit any po­lit­i­cal par­ties or politi­cians. Re­gard­ing the four Cab­i­net mem­bers who have be­come ex­ec­u­tives of the Palang Pracharat Party, the deputy PM said they must care­fully man­age their time at work, and state as­sets and per­son­nel can­not be used for the ben­e­fit of their party, he added.

Mean­while, once the or­ganic law goes into ef­fect, the EC is re­quired to sub­mit a de­cree call­ing for the elec­tion of MPs, which the Cab­i­net will have to get roy­ally en­dorsed, the deputy PM said.

Once the royal ap­proval is given, the EC has to set the dates for elec­tion and can­di­date ap­pli­ca­tion, among other things.

Wissanu said af­ter the elec­tion de­cree is is­sued, the rul­ing Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der (NCPO) should lift all re­stric­tions on po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties to pave the way for par­ties to start cam­paign­ing.

As for the sta­tus of this junta-led gov­ern­ment, the deputy PM said it would re­main in full power un­til a new Cab­i­net is sworn in.

He ex­plained that un­like its elected pre­de­ces­sors, this post-coup ad­min­is­tra­tion is not a care­taker, be­cause it will not cease to ex­ist.

A gov­ern­ment ceases to ex­ist when a prime min­is­ter is dis­qual­i­fied, the en­tire Cab­i­net re­signs, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is dis­solved or the ad­min­is­tra­tion com­pletes its term. None of these con­di­tions ap­ply to this gov­ern­ment.

“A tran­si­tional clause [of the Con­sti­tu­tion] states that the Cab­i­net in of­fice be­fore the pro­mul­ga­tion of the 2017 Con­sti­tu­tion will con­tinue work­ing un­til a new Cab­i­net is sworn in be­fore the King,” Wissanu said.

The deputy PM also an­nounced the sched­ule of events in the run-up to the elec­tion and af­ter the na­tional vote. He said the cal­en­dar was drafted af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with rel­e­vant agen­cies, in­clud­ing the EC and the Con­sti­tu­tion Draft­ing Com­mis­sion.

Wissanu was ear­lier told by Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha to ex­plain the rel­e­vant laws and the time­line in re­la­tion to the up­com­ing elec­tion to the me­dia.

Sep­a­rately, Prakit Siri­wat­tanaket, vice pres­i­dent of Kasikorn Se­cu­ri­ties, said in­vestors were dis­ap­pointed about the un­clear elec­tion time­line an­nounced by Wissanu yes­ter­day, re­sult­ing in smaller gains in the Stock Ex­change of Thai­land In­dex.

He said some of the larger gains made in the morn­ing dis­si­pated in af­ter­noon trade and the mar­ket closed at 1,681.73 points, up 0.38 per cent.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Deputy Pre­mier Prawit Wong­suwan said for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tions who wanted to send ob­servers to the next elec­tion can seek per­mis­sion, adding that the gov­ern­ment will con­sider whether it should in­vite a for­eign agency to ob­serve the polls.

For­eign Min­is­ter Don Pra­mud­winai had pre­vi­ously voiced op­po­si­tion to the idea of hav­ing for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tions ob­serve the elec­tion.

He main­tained that the polls could be ob­served by lo­cals to en­sure a free and fair elec­tion. Politi­cians and crit­ics have called for for­eign ob­servers for the sake of cred­i­bil­ity.

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