Latest NLA push 'could delay poll'

Latest NLA push 'could delay poll'

Move seen as attempt to keep heat off regime

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is considering asking the outgoing Election Commission (EC) to delay appointing poll inspectors and let the new commissioners who are pending royal endorsement take over the selection process.

The move, unveiled by NLA member and whip Somchai Sawaengkarn, is widely seen as an attempt to keep the heat off the regime after a group of NLA members reportedly plans to put forth legal amendments to effectively scrap the entire process.

The group is said to be unhappy with the outgoing commissioners led by Supachai Somcharoen who earlier this month started selecting 616 poll inspectors. It is alleged that some of election inspectors lack experience and have political affiliations.

A source said some NLA members are concerned that the poll inspectors have political connections and their independence and impartiality may be compromised.

However, addressing the issue by amending the organic law is considered excessive, which can also further delay the general election and make the government a target of criticism, according to the source.

The proposal that the outgoing EC should delay endorsing the poll inspectors is a more feasible option, said the source.

Legal amendments take much time to be approved and implemented because the amendment bill must undergo a public hearing process under Section 77 of the charter and be reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Poll inspectors play an important role as they help the EC monitor elections across the country and each province can have up to eight poll inspectors.

Replacing provincial election chiefs, poll inspectors are tasked with investigating poll complaints and forwarding them to the EC for consideration which can result in suspension of elections and change an election outcome in any given constituency.

The names of the 616 poll inspectors to be deployed in 77 provinces including Bangkok have been put up for public scrutiny before they are expected to be officially announced next month.

The poll inspectors are being chosen in preparation for the selection of senators, which will take place after a related bill is enacted, possibly as soon as next month.

Mr Somchai said Wednesday that the proposal should provide a solution without having to wait for the lengthy amendment process.

He insisted there is still time for the selection of poll inspectors and the new commissioners who have to work closely with the inspectors should have a say in the process.

"If we go ahead with the amendment, some people will think it is easy and follow suit and seek to amend the other laws. We need the EC's cooperation on this," Mr Somchai said.

He said the NLA is not intervening in the EC's affairs and it is not accusing the outgoing commissioners of being flawed in carrying out their job.

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