Regime under pressure to lift politics ban
Pressure is mounting on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to lift the ban on political activities immediately in light of the Constitutional Court's ruling in favour of an NCPO order amending the organic law on political parties.
The Constitutional Court yesterday ruled that Order No.53/2560 issued on Dec 22 last year by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in his capacity as the NCPO chief did not violate the 2017 constitution.
The court ruling was in response to petitions that two main political parties, Pheu Thai and the Democrats, earlier filed separately through the Office of the Ombudsman.
The amendments require members of existing political parties to reconfirm their membership and verify their qualifications, as well as pay membership fees, within 30 days of April 1.
Parties are also required to hold general assemblies, elect leaders and executives, write a manifesto and regulations, and set up provincial branches within 90 days of the NCPO ban on political activities being lifted.
The petitioners argued that the amendments did not protect their members and imposed an unreasonably heavy burden on them, limited their rights and liberties and were discriminatory.
However, the Constitutional Court yesterday ruled against these charges.
In light of the court's ruling, Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political scientist at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said that the NCPO must allow political activities straight away.
It is important to allow parties to resume activities so they can prepare for the general election expected in February next year. Otherwise, the poll would not be seen to be free and fair given that some new parties can now proceed with their activities while existing parties are still banned from doing so, Mr Yutthaporn said.
Chousak Sirinil, head of Pheu Thai's legal team, said that the sooner the ban is lifted, the better.
If and when the ban is lifted, the party must rush to recruit members and set up at least four regional branches as stipulated by the organic law on political parties. Setting up a party branch is no easy task because each branch must have at least 500 members, he said.
Gen Prayut yesterday refused to be drawn over his proposed meeting with political parties to discuss issues associated with the poll preparations.
"The election roadmap will remain the same. It will be in February 2019. Don't criticise or push for an earlier election," he stated when asked about his timeframe.
Speculation is rife the NCPO will lift the ban this month to allow parties to prepare for the poll, which has already been delayed numerous times.
- Earlier report: Constitutional Court upholds party regulation