Abhisit objects to attempt to delay election by small parties

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva today raised strong objection to an attempt by a group of newly-emerged political parties to petition the Election Commission to postpone the election tentatively scheduled for February 24.

He said the Election Commission must be held responsible if the election was not held as scheduled.

These political parties claimed that they didn’t have enough time to meet the legal requirement for membership recruitment.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former member of the Election Commission and acting dean of the Political Science and Law faculties of Walailuck University, said the parties have scheduled a press conference next Thursday to announce their planned petition to the EC to defer the election until May 5.

The group’s coordinator, Sathu Anumothamee, leader of the Palang Thai Dee party, was quoted as saying that several small parties had problems with membership recruitment to meet the minimum legal requirement of 500 members to be eligible to contest the election.

For that matter, Sathu said they would need another two months to be ready for the election, adding that about ten small parties namely Paendin Tham and Khru Thai Pua Prachachon would sign up the petition.

The move comes amidst concerns raised by several politicians that there could be attempts to delay the poll despite repeated vows by the Election Commission and leading figures in the government that they would stand by the February 24 timeline.

Responding to the move, Abhisit said there is no justification for the election to be delayed.  He said these political parties should have understood the political timeline when they applied to be registered with the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, the Democrat party has ordered an investigation into the conduct of former Songkhla MP Thavorn Senniam for opening his house in Songkhla to welcome Suthep Thuagsuban, founder of the Ruam Palang Prachachart Thai (ACT) party, and to allow it to be used to recruit new members.

The probe was ordered by its leader Abhisit and is headed by Mr Nipit Intharasombat, one of the deputy leaders.  It is intended to determine whether Thavorn’s conduct constitutes a violation of the party’s regulations.

Nipit said he had already seen a video clip sent by one of the Democrat party members showing  Suthep, a former Democrat secretary-general, at Thavorn’s residence speaking to his supporters.

Suthep reportedly said that the Democrat Party stands a slim chance of winning in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.

Suthep was also quoted as saying in the clip that Thavorn would have been elected party secretary-general had he had not been cheated.

Nipit said he found Suthep’s statements to be detrimental to the party and that Thavorn might have violated party regulations.

He said a disciplinary probe would be conducted against Thavorn, adding that he could not afford the case to be ignored otherwise there would be other members who might follow suit.

Thavorn, meanwhile, said he was ready to accept any consequences from for his alleged conduct and would not ask for any help from the party.  He insisted that he welcomed Suthep to his house because both have been friends for more than 20 years.

Both Suthep and Thavorn played a crucial role in the months-long street protests that eventually prompted the military to intervene to topple the Yingluck government in 2014.


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