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Drafters concerned about EC request to become a govt office

Nov 11. 2016
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By THE NATION

THE Constitution Drafting Commission wants to meet with state agencies to discuss the Election Commission’s proposal to change its status from an independent agency to a government office – amid concern that such a change might cause it to lose its independence.

Chief drafter Meechai Ruchupan said the EC wanted to ensure that its staff enjoy social security benefits that government officials currently enjoy – but the CDC feared that changing from an independent agency to a government office would compromise its independence, as it could fall under the influence of political office-holders.

So, the CDC wished to consult all concerned agencies first before moving ahead with the new EC bill it is working on. The drafters resolved yesterday to establish a new election ombudsman to replace provincial EC offices to oversee general election arrangements by EC staff.

However, the ombudsman would not be authorised to kick-start any investigations into electoral fraud, as there will be another team responsible for this, along with election intelligence agents in areas appointed by the EC.

The CDC, however, has not yet revealed another controversial recommendation in regard to the EC’s increasing power to suppress fraud related to the buying of political positions. EC Chairman Supachai Somcharoen said the proposal to impose a lifetime political ban against those involved in the buying of political positions was reasonable, as it was equivalent to killing their political careers.

However, he admitted it was technically difficult to prove such wrongdoing, as there were only two parties likely to have talked in secret. Supachai said the EC was considering setting up a new unit to help improve its intelligence and investigation work in regard to electoral and political fraud.

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