Local polls could trigger party ban end

Local polls could trigger party ban end

Wissanu: Local polls 'could' come next year.
Wissanu: Local polls 'could' come next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam hinted Thursday the ban on political activities could be relaxed to allow local elections to take place ahead of national polls.

However, he stressed local elections would be limited to certain localities, saying local administration organisations (LAOs) in general were doing a fine job.

Mr Wissanu said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was considering the issue and discussing with the Interior Ministry where local elections would be held.

There are several types of LAO. They include the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), municipalities, and tambon administration organisations (TAOs).

Speculation is growing the military regime will allow the Bangkok governor's election to proceed ahead of the general election, which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said could take place in November next year.

Since seizing power in May 2014, the NCPO has prohibited political activities and suspended all local elections with vacant seats being filled by a selection process.

Mr Wissanu said local elections could not be held immediately, noting that laws governing local polls would have to be amended to meet stricter requirements in the new charter.

He would meet the interior permanent secretary and heads of the Interior Ministry's Department of Provincial Administration and Department of Local Administration to discuss legal amendments soon. A roadmap for limited local elections would be drafted to help politicians and political parties make plans.

The talk about a resumption of local elections comes at a time when the government is under increasing pressure to lift the ban on political activities following the enactment of the organic law on political parties last month.

Parties complained the organic law came with many conditions attached and deadlines including those imposed on parties to streamline their membership databases to prepare for primary polls ahead of the next general election.

Political parties must be responsible for organising their own primaries to select MPs to stand in elections. However, constitutional experts have said the organic laws related to general elections contain a clause allowing deadlines to be deferred, if necessary.

Talking about local elections, Mr Wissanu said that if possible, certain local polls should take place before national ones otherwise some politicians would not be able to plan ahead and make decisions.

"It's almost impossible to contest both local and national polls at the same time," he said.

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