Political activities ban to stay
Parties must wait until new laws take effect
A ban on political activities is likely to be removed after all the election-related laws take effect, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Friday.
Gen Prawit said the ban will remain intact until the organic laws involving elections come into force.
He assured that certain restrictions will be eased only after the government holds talks with representatives from political parties.
Among the four election laws, the draft legislation on the election of MPs will be the last to take effect due to a 90-day wait after being published in the Royal Gazette.
Gen Prawit, who is assigned to chair the planned dialogue with the political parties, tentatively scheduled to take place at the end of this month, declined to say which topics would be on the agenda.
He also shrugged off the possibility that some parties may boycott the planned discussion, saying their absence should not have any bearing.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had previously offered to meet representatives from political parties to address election-related problems and scheduled the talk in this month.
However, political parties argued they were struggling in their election preparations due to the regime's ban on political activities. Many were concerned they would be short of the registered members required to vote in election primaries if they cannot recruit new members.
Under the organic law, which took effect on Oct 8 last year, parties must organise primaries where members choose the candidates they want to stand in both the constituency and party-list elections.
Gen Prawit also rejected calls by some political parties that the Prayut government should step down from power three months before the polls, saying that "they can come up with any proposal".
Supachai Somcharoen, chairman of the Election Commission (EC), said yesterday that the polling agency proposed that the regime allow redrawing of constituencies when the elections of MPs law is published in the Royal Gazette.
He said the EC needs time to gather opinions from political parties and the public about the demarcation of constituencies.
Mr Supachai said gathering opinions is important because it concerns the primary vote system, a new element introduced in the organic law.
The concerns were raised during the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and the Constitution Drafting Committee.
According to Mr Supachai, if the EC is allowed to proceed with the demarcation and the political parties are allowed to conduct primaries during the 90-day wait period, they should be sufficiently prepared when the election law takes effect.
He said the EC also told the meeting that if local elections were to be held ahead of the general election, the race should be at least three months apart.
Meanwhile, the Department of Local Administration is urging the public to give suggestions to one of the draft laws on local elections which has been reviewed by the Council of State and is now up for a public hearing.