Deputy PM chimes in on election deadlines
Local elections will be held within 45 days of bills to amend six laws relating to regional governing bodies being enacted, though it is still not known when the bills will become law, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.
Mr Wissanu made the remarks after election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn expressed concern the bills may not be ready in time for local elections in May of next year.
The deputy prime minister said the government has never said local elections would be held in May as some critics have stated. That was an estimate given by some agencies discussing a possible time frame, he added.
Talk of elections gained traction after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) suggested the ban on political activities may be lifted soon. It also gave signs that local elections at certain localities would be permitted in line with the roadmap for the general election tentatively set for the end of next year.
He said the Council of State, the government's legal advisory body, has finished drawing up the bills to amend the laws related to regional governing bodies.
Feedback will be sought from the Election Commission (EC) and the Interior Ministry next month before the bills are presented to the cabinet, which will then forward them to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), Mr Wissanu said.
The NLA will require some time to deliberate the proposed amendments before the bills are submitted for royal endorsement and become law, Mr Wissanu said.
The laws govern the elections of local councils and local executives, provincial administrative organisations, tambon administrative organisations, thessaban municipalities, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Pattaya City administration.
The six laws would have to be amended to meet the stricter requirements that are stipulated under the new constitution before local elections can take place, observers said.
Mr Wissanu said local elections, which will have to be held in 7,000 localities nationwide, cannot all be held concurrently. Rather, they have to take place on a gradual basis, he added.
In the event some local elections are scheduled to take place at the same time as the national polls, it is the EC's responsibility to consider ways to prevent a concurrence of local polls and national polls, Mr Wissanu said.
Addressing calls by Mr Somchai for the NCPO to lift restrictions on political activities, Mr Wissanu said the NCPO announcements banning political activities will have to be eased to allow local election campaigns to be staged.
The NCPO may not have to lift the orders altogether as there are other ways to ease the restrictions, such as issuing new orders to permit campaigns for local elections, Mr Wissanu said.
Mr Somchai said he believes local elections are unlikely to take place before the national polls, given the bills to amend the laws require deliberation by the NLA, which observers predict may take some time. The national poll has been set for next November next year.