EC meet to 'illegally' pick chairman

EC meet to 'illegally' pick chairman

Five newly endorsed members of the Election Commission (EC) are expected to select a new chairman Tuesday, although some experts have warned such a move could be illegal.

Nat Phasuk, secretary-general of the Senate, said the five members, whose appointments have yet to be submitted for royal endorsement, will meet to discuss how to choose the EC chairman and then proceed with choosing someone -- probably from among their own ranks.

Mr Nat, who also serves as secretary-general of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), insisted the action would not contravene Section 12 of a law governing the poll agency, as some have suggested.

Last Thursday, law lecturer Jade Donavanik, who helped draft the former charter, warned that picking a chairman from among the EC members could be a breach of the law.

He said the law states that the first chairman to be named since it was enacted can only be chosen after all seven election commissioners have been installed.

But seats remain empty as the NLA voted on July 12 to endorse five nominees for the EC and rejected two candidates.

Mr Jade said the two commissioners who are yet to be picked also have the right to choose a chairman and it would be unfair to strip them of this right by allowing the meeting to go ahead in their absence.

However, Mr Nat said NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai would see to it that the process is lawful and that all EC members have clean backgrounds before their names are forwarded for royal endorsement.

Thawatchai Therdpaothai, a designated EC member, said Monday it depends on the secretary-general to study the law and decide if the selection of the EC vote can proceed.

He said he was unaware of speculation that he was one of two strong contenders for the EC chairmanship, adding he did not aspire to the role when applying for the job.

Chatchai Chanpraisri has been rumoured to be the other candidate.

The process to find the last two EC members is expected to start early next month and wrap up within 90 days.

The five members will be briefed on their responsibilities, the EC said.

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