Junta says na­tional elec­tions will be held on Fe­bru­ary 24 as ini­tially promised.


The Nation - - FRONT PAGE -

THE JUNTA on Fri­day reaf­firmed the dates for its “roadmap to democ­racy” with Fe­bru­ary 24 con­firmed as the polling day, while April 25 and May 9 were favoured as the re­spec­tive dates to an­nounce elec­tion re­sults and es­tab­lish the elected Cabi­net.

Gov­ern­ment le­gal ex­pert Wis­sanu Kre­angam, also a deputy prime minister, said that within this month and be­fore the elec­tion de­cree is out, the ban on political ac­tiv­i­ties will be lifted and nine junta or­ders re­lated to the re­stric­tion will also be nul­li­fied.

The elec­tion cam­paign de­cree will be is­sued on Jan­uary 2, Wis­sanu said. Then on Jan­uary 4, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) will for­mally an­nounce the elec­tion date as well as the MP can­di­date lists and other de­tails, he added. On that day, the date will be pub­lished in the Royal Gazette.

Each party will sub­mit its list of prime minister can­di­dates to the EC be­tween Jan­uary 14 and 18, Wis­sanu said. On Jan­uary 25, the EC will an­nounce all MP can­di­dates from dif­fer­ent par­ties, he added.

While the junta has main­tained its ten­ta­tive Fe­bru­ary 24 elec­tion date, Thais liv­ing over­seas will be able to cast their bal­lots be­tween Fe­bru­ary 4 and 16, and those liv­ing out­side their con­stituen­cies will vote Fe­bru­ary 17, a week be­fore the elec­tion day.

The elec­tion re­sult, Wis­sanu said, will be an­nounced within two months of the poll, or by April 25. The first meeting of the new Parliament should be held by May 9, when the new Cabi­net and prime minister will be se­lected and take an oath, Wis­sanu said.

The role of the rul­ing Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der (NCPO) should also fade away in the process. Wis­sanu said that from De­cem­ber 28, the junta will stop propos­ing leg­is­la­tion to the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly (NLA).

The NLA it­self will also cease leg­is­la­tion from Fe­bru­ary 15, he added.

How­ever, the NCPO will still main­tain power to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the se­lec­tion of 250 sen­a­tors, and the process should be fi­nalised by April 28, Wis­sanu said.

The time­line was re­vealed on Fri­day by the junta in its con­tro­ver­sial meeting with political par­ties that ad­dressed the elec­tion it­self as well as the ban on political ac­tiv­i­ties im­posed since the coup over four years ago.

The NCPO said the meeting was needed so political par­ties can make ar­range­ments and cam­paign ahead of the elec­tion, which is less than three months away.

The EC had in­vited 105 par­ties to join the dis­cus­sion on Fri­day. Sev­enty-five, mostly medium-sized and smaller par­ties, ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tions while ma­jor play­ers such as Pheu Thai Party, Thai Raksa Chart and Demo­crat Party re­fused to take part, cit­ing that it was held by the il­le­git­i­mate junta.

Anti-junta par­ties such as Fu­ture For­ward Party and Seri Ruam Thai Party also re­jected the in­vi­ta­tion.

Kian Party (Troll Party) led by anti-coup ac­tivist Som­bat Boon­nga­manong had not been in­vited. Som­bat was present dressed as a pi­rate, but was asked to leave the venue on grounds that he had not been on the in­vi­ta­tion list and that the party had not been fully reg­is­tered by the EC.

Chaired by junta lead­ers PM Gen­eral Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy PM Gen­eral Prawit Wong­suwan, the Royal Army Club in Vib­havadi saw tight se­cu­rity.

How­ever, some 20 pro-elec­tion pro­test­ers present in front of the club called on the junta to be sin­cere in lift­ing the ban and hold­ing an elec­tion.

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