Earliest date for election in Feb 2016: Thai DPM

Earliest date for election in Feb 2016: Thai DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, one of the government's top legal specialists, yesterday said the earliest date for the next general election would be in February 2016.

Wissanu did not agree with an earlier estimation by Finance Minister Sommai Phasee that the general election could not be called till mid-2016, though Sommai's conjecture was based on the fact no one could predict when the new constitution would be ready.

Sommai also assumed the poll would be delayed by at least three months if a public referendum were sought on the charter draft.

Wissanu said he believed the charter draft would be ready by early September next year.

After submitting the charter for royal endorsement, Wissanu said he expected the King to endorse the charter either in September or October.

The lawmakers may take three months, up to December next year, to write the necessary constitutional organic laws. The Election Commission would take 60-90 days to go ahead with the election procedures.

"It is possible that the election date could be scheduled earliest for February or March. Definitely, it will not be delayed till mid-2016,'' Wissanu said.

He said his estimation was based on how soon the Constitution Drafting Committee could complete the charter draft. He said it would not be practical to write both the organic laws and the charter at the same time.

He asserted that there would be no constitution blueprint.

Wissanu also dismissed proposals for Thailand to opt for Germany's election system, saying the country adopted a party-list system, which he believed was too complicated and may be doomed to failure in Thailand.

Wissanu also believed that the public would accept a proposal to give limited amnesty instead of a blanket amnesty as part of national reconciliation.

"This means those who were involved in rallies during a particular period would be given pardon, not those who were accused of corruption. This would be acceptable to the public because it would not be blanket amnesty,'' he said.

Wissanu said several important bills would be deliberated in the first reading in December, including the inheritance bill which is expected to be considered three months and to take effect in June next year.

In January, the gathering of people in public places bill will be debated in its first reading. The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) would be informed which bills must be urgently passed. The government wanted the gathering-of-people-in-public-places bill to be passed quickly, as it needs a legal tool to control crowds.

Meanwhile NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai gave the assembly an A-grade for its performance in the first four months, saying it had passed 30 bills so far.

He denied that the assembly was just a rubber stamp of the National Council for Peace and Order, which handpicked the members.

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