Govt: No more election delays

Govt: No more election delays

Palang Pracharath leader and Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana (right) leads other cabinet ministers in formally registering for party membership on Tuesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Palang Pracharath leader and Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana (right) leads other cabinet ministers in formally registering for party membership on Tuesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Key ministers came out on Tuesday to confirm there are no plans to further defer the long awaited general election.

At the same time it was confirmed that ministers who are members of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) do plan to step down from the cabinet - when the time is right.

Prawit Wongsuwon and Wissanu Krea-ngam, the two deputy prime ministers, and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda all said the government had no plans to postpone voting from Feb 24.

"The government has held talks with the Election Commission and there are no plans to postpone the election to a later date," Mr Wissanu said.

Gen Prawit, a key figure in the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and also defence minister, took the same line, saying the regime had no intention to move the date further back.

The election date again came under the spotlight after comments by red-shirt leader Jatuporn Proman on Sunday that the country would not be ready to go to the ballot box on Feb 24 because the Election Commission (EC) would not be able register all the new parties in time, among other reasons. 

Thirty-seven parties have applied to contest the polls, and so far the EC has approved the registration of  25 of them.

"All could be approved by next week," EC secretary-general Jarungwit Pumma said on the "Inside Thailand" TV programme.

The country must hold a general election no later than May 9 next year. Everything would be in place in time for people to go to the polls on Feb 24. "Our office is ready," Mr Jarungwit said.

It was the EC's job to set the election date, but it would consult the NCPO and other relevant agencies before officially announcing it, he said. (continues below)

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon tells reporters at Goverment House on Tuesday there were no plans to defer the poll date. (Photo by Wassana Nanuam)

Four cabinet ministers have joined Palang Pracharath, one of the parties already registered to contest the elections. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee and PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool are the core figures in the PPRP.

The party opened for membership applications on Tuesday. The four ministers were the first to join.

Mr Uttama, the party leader, confirmed that all cabinet ministers standing under the PPP banner would resign from the cabinet  - at an appropriate time.

Mr Kobsak said: "We will discuss this issue later and will all resign together to work on politics full time." He also did not say when.

The PPRP is seen as having been set up to support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha becoming the prime minister as an "outsider" after the elections.

The party on Tuesday again refused to make its support for Gen Prayut official.

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