Local polls must wait, Meechai says

Local polls must wait, Meechai says

Local polls will take place after the general election, not before, to give the Election Commission (EC) sufficient time to make preparations, said Meechai Ruchupan, head of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC).

Mr Meechai said the six draft bills governing local elections have yet to be scrutinised by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

By the time these bills are passed into laws by the NLA, it will be close to the planned general election, he said.

"If local polls go first, it will be hectic. The EC needs time to make preparations. So it's nothing but pure speculation that local polls will take place before the general election," said the CDC chairman.

According to Mr Meechai, it remains unknown at this stage if the election of district councillors will continue but the issue should be cleared up after City Hall comes up with its legal amendment proposal.

Based on the six draft bills, the election of district councillors has been scrapped, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam echoed Mr Meechai's speculation that local elections are likely to take place after the national polls tentatively scheduled for Feb 24 next year.

He said the drafting of six draft laws required for organising local elections is expected to take up to six months and the EC wants the general election and the local polls to be at least 90 days apart.

He said local polls are likely to be organised in two rounds due to the redrawing of election constituencies, adding that 40 provinces that do not require redrawing of constituencies will go first.

Meanwhile, the cabinet on Tuesday approved the six legislative drafts required for the holding of local elections, said government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Lt Gen Sansern said that one of the key elements is that the EC, which is responsible for organising polls, is authorised to ask the Interior Ministry to hold local elections on its behalf.

He added the other elements include stricter qualifications of candidates in local polls to be in line with the new constitution's requirements.

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