Pheu Thai calls out PM on poll date

Pheu Thai calls out PM on poll date

Vows to challenge S44 order on parties

Phumtham Wechayachai, acting secretary general of the Pheu Thai Party, has called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to set a firm election date. (File photo)
Phumtham Wechayachai, acting secretary general of the Pheu Thai Party, has called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to set a firm election date. (File photo)

The Pheu Thai Party has called on Prime Minister Chan-o-cha to state exactly when the general election will take place while reaffirming its opposition to a non-elected prime minister.

The party's caretaker secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai yesterday said a lack of clarity has dominated Thai politics for almost four years with constant political flip-flops on when the election will be held.

If the government wants to regain the public and international community's confidence, it should come out and say exactly which month the election will be held, Mr Phumtham said.

Phumtham Wechayachai, acting secretary general of the Pheu Thai Party, has called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to set a firm election date. (File photo)

"The people should be allowed to have a say on the country's future, and don't let uncertainty ruin all hope," he said.

Back in October, Gen Prayut said he would announce in June when the election would be held with the target being November this year -- the most precise date he has given yet since seizing power in the 2014 military coup.

Gen Prayut has announced election dates at least three times in the past, only to push them back, citing concerns over changes to the constitution and security issues.

The election that was promised in 2015 after the May 22, 2014, coup was pushed back to 2016. Gen Prayut later told the United Nation's General Assembly elections would be held by late 2017.

Then in 2017 during a visit to the White House, he promised elections in 2018.

Eventually the month of November was announced.

Mr Phumtham also reiterated his party's stance on a non-elected prime minister, saying the party disagrees with any attempt by the regime to prolong its hold on power via a military-backed political party.

The regime should also ensure fair and equal treatment for all parties ahead of the election rather than create mechanisms to pave the way for it to return to the helm, Mr Phumtham said.

He also said Pheu Thai is examining legal channels to petition against a Section 44 order issued to amend the organic law on political parties.

The party is expected to submit a petition to the Constitutional Court next week, he said.

The order has drawn flak from both the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties.

Under the order, members of existing parties must produce letters to confirm their membership and pay party fees within 30 days of April 1 or lose their status.

The order also gives new parties a month's head start.

Existing parties will not be able to begin their member registration process until April 1, while new parties can start on March 1.

Chusak Sirinil, head of the Pheu Thai Party's legal team, said the powers of Section 44 are the powers of a dictatorship and arbitrary use of the section to amend the organic law is unwarranted as amending legislation is the role of the National Legislative Assembly.

The legal team has already drawn up the petition against the order and will seek a Constitutional Court ruling on the matter, Mr Chusak said.

Meanwhile, Supreme Commander Thanchaiyan Srisuwan yesterday said the armed forces will continue to support the regime regardless of Gen Prayut's declaration last week that he is now a politician.

The armed forces have acknowledged Gen Prayut's statement, and they will proceed as normal, which includes supporting the work of the government, Gen Thanchaiyan said.

Last Wednesday, Gen Prayut declared openly for the first time that he is no longer a soldier and is now "a politician who used to be a soldier", though he said he felt compelled to become premier out of a sense of responsibility.

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