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Poll delay proposal slammed

Apr 24. 2015
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Pheu Thai demands speedy election; politicians who attended Thursday's meeting do not represent the people, say experts
A PROPOSAL by political leaders to have the next general election deferred by at least a year in order to fix the draft constitution came under a barrage of criticism yesterday. Opponents of the idea said the proposal made no sense, lacked a mandate and would further derail a return to democracy.
Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said yesterday that the party wants a speedy election. 
Some participants at Thursday’s meeting with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) suggested that the military junta of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha could stay on for at least another year or even longer if the draft charter would be made acceptable to all and be submitted to a national referendum. 
Those who support the move reportedly included Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader Jatuporn Promphan and Chart Thai Pattana representative Somsak Prissananantakul.
However, Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Borwornsak Uwanno yesterday said that an amendment to the provisional charter would be needed in order to allow an extension of the charter-writing process. 
Phumtham, who was among the 40 or so participants at Thursday’s meeting with the NCPO, yesterday said there must be a quick return of power to the people. 
“We want election to be held quickly … and for the rights and liberties of the people to be respected,” said Phumtham, who made over a dozen tweets on the issue yesterday.
Phumtham said media reports that there was a consensus to give the NCPO and the Prayut administration more time were inaccurate.
A source from the meeting on Thursday, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, told The Nation that a military officer kept repeating the same question to many key participants. The question was what they thought of a delay of the next general election, which is currently slated for early next year.
Siam University law lecturer Ekachai Chainuvati, who attended the meeting hosted by the NCPO’s Reconciliation Centre at the Army Club, is also opposed to a deferred roadmap to election and insisted that there was no consensus.
“I am 100 per cent against such a move. My position has always been that election is a basic and fundamental human right vested in all human beings all over the world. The event of May 22 [2014] was damaging enough. The more the NCPO extends its stay, the worse it will be,” said Ekachai.
He added that whatever suggestions were made in support of the election delay were made by individual politicians and cannot be construed as being the position of each political party, as all parties are now banned by the NCPO from holding meetings.
Pro-democracy activist Phayaw Akkhad, who was also at the meeting, accused politicians of making the move to appease the military junta without considering the views of the people. 
She said politicians should ask themselves whether they have a mandate from the people to make such proposal.
“I don’t agree with [the proposal] allowing the military junta who seized power to stay longer,” said Phayaw.
She added that politicians should be sensitive to the fact that the political rights of the people have been robbed by the 2014 putsch.
“They don’t respect the people,” Phayaw remarked. “And do they really represent the people?” 
Political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon yesterday called the proposal a “bad sign”, and an attempt to create a political discourse that would extend the length of stay in power for the military junta by citing the inadequate draft charter as an excuse.
“In the current situation, the CDC can still amend the draft charter [within the given timeframe].”
Sirote questioned if the leaders of the two big parties were now colluding with the NCPO.
National Reform Council (NRC) member Alongkorn Ponlaboot said it is necessary for the Kingdom to quickly return to democracy in accordance with the original roadmap of the NCPO and any delay was unacceptable.
Akanat Promphan, spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said amending the draft can be done within the current time frame. He added that it’s not too late for the CDC to heed the criticisms.

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