THAILAND - The Election Commission's new team says it could delay the general election from the scheduled date of February 2 while political parties prepare for the judgement day. Meanwhile, the opposition Democrat Party remains undecided on whether to field candidates.
"We are willing to delay [the election] for three months, six months, one year to two years. But first things first: The political parties have to reach an agreement. The second thing is whether it [a delay] is allowed by the law. We, the EC, are the third factor," EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said.
He made the remarks after representatives of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest group met with the EC yesterday and submitted an open letter calling for a postponement of the election. The representatives were Sathit Segal, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaibul and General Preecha Iamsuphan.
Somsak also read an open letter from PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban said that the demonstrators want to reform the country before an election is held.
In an earlier statment, Suthep said the national reform may take a year and a half to complete.
Somchai said he admired the good intentions of the PDRC to see national reform but there were some legal limitations for the EC.
The government can issue an executive decree to postpone an election if there is an emergency situation, he said. For example, if there were a national disaster or a war, nobody would go to the polls. But such a postponement needs approval from the EC, Somchai said.
If the election date cannot be postponed, he urged the PDRC to help campaign for a fair election without vote-buying.
However, the EC accepted the letter from the PDRC and said it would consider the demands therein. The commissioners asked the group to recognise that it was their duty by law to organise the election.
'No blocking of process'
The EC has set December 23-27 for party-list candidates to submit their applications to run in the election. Caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said the government would not allow protesters to break the law by blocking election procedures.