Former Thai election commissioner urges litigation over alleged election watchdog incompetence
Former election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn has urged opposition Seri Ruam Thai party to sue Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) over alleged failure in the performance of its duty relating to vote-buying in the Lampang Constituency 4 by-election on June 20th, 2020.
Wattana Sitthiwang, of the Palang Pracharat party, won the by-election, according to the EC when it announced the poll result on July 21st, 2020.
On November 23rd, 2021, however, the EC declared that the by-election had been riddled with vote buying and, therefore, it was invalid, but the ruling was not posted on the EC’s website until January 14th.
Somchai, currently director of the Political Research and Development Centre at Rangsit University, said in his Facebook post that he uploaded a video clip of suspected vote buying the day after the by-election and was invited, by the EC in a letter dated July 14th, 2020, to testify at the EC’s office in Lampang province.
He said he finally received a letter from the EC’s office in Lampang on July 22nd, telling him to report to the office the following day.
The former election commissioner said that the EC took sixteen months, since the receipt of the complaint letter from the Seri Ruam Thai party, to investigate the alleged vote buying and to issue a ruling to invalidate the by-election.
The EC’s ruling is not final. It has to be submitted to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders for finalisation, after which a new by-election will have to be held if the court upholds the ruling. That would mean that Wattana would lose his parliamentary status.