Politicians ask PM to stop using S44
Politicians have called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to stop exercising the all-powerful Section 44 and maintain political neutrality ahead of the March 24 general election.
Chusak Sirinil, head of the Pheu Thai Party's legal team, said Thursday that the party wanted Gen Prayut, in his capacity as the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to refrain from using his power under Section 44.
Section 44 existed under the previous interim charter and has been carried over to the present constitution. The section gives Gen Prayut, as the NCPO chief, absolute power to issue orders.
From now on, the government must serve as an interim government and must not initiate new projects which imposes budget spending obligations on future governments, Mr Chusak said.
The current government must not transfer or appoint government officials ahead of the election and must maintain political neutrality and avoid using state mechanisms to give political parties advantages or disadvantages, he said.
The Election Commission (EC) should also perform its duties independently and monitor the government's exercise of power, Mr Chusak said.
Nipit Intarasombat, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, said that Section 44 should now be invoked to deal only with security issues rather than poll-related matters.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam replied that Gen Prayut will try to avoid invoking Section 44 unless it is absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, Mitti Tiyapairat, secretary-general of the Thai Raksa Chart Party, which is known to be the Pheu Thai's political offshoot also called on Gen Prayut to stop using Section 44, adding that the prime minister should announce his decision on his political future quickly.
If Gen Prayut wants to become a candidate for prime minister on the ticket of any party, he should step down, along with four cabinet ministers who concurrently hold executive posts of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), Mr Mitti said.