House dissolved, cabinet briefed on caretaker role
published : 20 Mar 2023 at 16:31
writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
The House of Representatives has been dissolved, paving the way for a general election, and the cabinet has been briefed by the Election Commission (EC) on its role as a caretaker administration.
A royal decree announcing the dissolution was published on Monday in the Royal Gazette. It was countersigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and was effective immediately. A date for the polls has yet to be set, but must be within 45-60 days.
The existing cabinet headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha now has limited authority as head of a caretaker government.
EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee confirmed he had a meeting on Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who oversees government legal affairs.
Mr Sawaeng said he discussed with Mr Wissanu what the caretaker government can and cannot do under Section 169 of the 2017 constitution, particularly about cabinet ministers going out on the campaign trail ahead of the general election.
Based on Section 169, the EC had issued a regulation prohibiting caretaker cabinet ministers from utilising state resources and personnel for their own advantage.
Mr Sawaeng said he had not discussed possible election dates with Mr Wissanu. The EC would decide this. He expected the commissioners would meet to discuss the election date on Tuesday.
Asked whether this was likely to be May 7 or May 14, Mr Sawaeng said the election must be held within 45 to 60 days after a dissolution. What was certain was that the polls would be held on a holiday, he said.
Mr Sawaeng said the government had not expressed a preference for any date for the election.
Asked whether petitions filed with the Administrative Court for an early hearing by political parties that disagreed with the map of constituencies redrawn by the EC would delay the election, Mr Sawaeng said he would rather not speculate on this matter.
If there were to be an emergency hearing the EC would have wait for the court's ruling, but the time-frame stipulated by the constitution must be followed, he said.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Wissanu said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had forwarded a draft royal decree dissolving the House of Representatives to His Majesty the King.
Mr Wissanu said the election date was not mentioned in the decree. Under the constitution, the government could only issue the decree. The EC would fix the election date after it was published in the Royal Gazette.
Asked whether the decree would be published on Monday, Mr Wissanu had replied, "probably".