Thailand: PM denies poll delay conspiracy

  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on 27 Mar 18 denied the military regime was conspiring to delay Feb 19’s election via potential plans to submit a poll-related bill to the Constitutional Court for a ruling on its validity.
  • The bill on the election of MPs may be forwarded to the charter court for the ruling before it is submitted for royal endorsement, Gen Prayut said.
  • “I don’t want to submit it for royal endorsement as long as there are still disputes,” he said.
  • Concerned parties may wish to heed public calls to fast-track matters but the situation requires careful consideration in order to avoid further problems, Gen Prayut said.
  • He said he has asked legal officials to look closely at the bill and determine whether the charter court should be asked to vet it. He said he has until 12 Apr 18 to decide whether to petition the court.
  • After receiving the bill from the NLA, the prime minister is obligated to submit it to the palace for royal endorsement within 25 days.
  • The premier, however, insisted the roadmap to the poll should not be changed as the vetting proceedings are expected to be quick.
  • He said it was important to make sure the two bills would not spark legal disputes that could derail social stability.
  • Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said if the charter court rules against any of the two bills, the legislation would be dropped and the drafting process would have to start anew.
  • Also on 27 Mar 18, NLA whip spokesman Jate Siratharanon said the prime minister could send the bill back to the NLA president, and that 10% of NLA members could sign their names to petition the court to rule on the bill.
  • This could happen at the NLA meeting at the end of the week if the prime minister decides to go down that path, he said.
  • Referring to concerns that the bill may not reach the palace by 12 Apr 18, Mr Jate said that would be unlikely as the court only spent a month vetting the organic bills on the Ombudsman and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
  • CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said petitioning the court does not necessarily equate to another delay. Once the petition has been submitted, the court can be asked to conclude the deliberation process within 20 days, Mr Meechai said.

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