Politics ban may stay until next year, fears Chartthaipattana chief

Politics ban may stay until next year, fears Chartthaipattana chief

The regime is unlikely to totally lift the political activities ban until after a royal decree setting the election date is passed, probably early next year, according to Chartthaipattana Party director Nikorn Chamnong.

Politicians, including those in the Pheu Thai Party, have called on the government to lift the ban entirely.

However, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has reason to dismiss such demands on practical and strategic grounds, said Mr Nikorn.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-gnam said last week the ban would be eased when the organic law on election of MPs is royally endorsed and published in the Royal Gazette. The law will take effect 90 days after its publication.

During the 90 days, the groundwork for the poll will be laid. This is when parties will be permitted to essentially recruit new members, hold meetings and organise primary votes, in which registered members select their respective parties' MP candidates.

The publication of the organic law on MP elections is expected the middle of next month, which will bring the 90-day period to the middle of December.

The Election Commission (EC) has said previously that a royal decree declaring the poll date would be issued in January of next year for the Feb 24 election.

Mr Nikorn said yesterday the NCPO did not appear to have much choice but to remove parts of the political activities ban.

However, complete removal of the ban during this time was probably out of the question, given the potential risks of the political situation getting out of hand, according to Mr Nikorn.

He said the regime might argue that it needs to retain power to keep itself from coming under pressure from unrest which might break out before the poll.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Democrat Party's legal team, Wirat Kalayasiri, disagreed with Mr Wissanu's suggestion that the election campaign could take less than a month.

For example, poll numbers allocated to MP candidates of each party vary from constituency to constituency, meaning no ballots can be printed until after the candidates have registered with the EC in each constituency. The EC would then struggle to print the ballots in time, he said.

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