By THE NATION
However, political parties could start updating their records now to meet the registration deadline set for early January by the organic law, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday after a meeting regarding organising local elections. Such activity would not be counted as violating the political ban, he added.
The statement came after days of confusion, following the junta’s ambiguous remarks that it would allow local elections before the next general election and might consider lifting the political ban to some degree.
Pressure had been mounting after the promulgation of the organic law on political parties, which stipulates strict deadlines for party activities starting at the date of the law’s implementation.
However, the amendment of the six laws involving local elections could not possibly be done this year, considering the new year is less than two months away, Wissanu said.
The laws had already been revised by the Council of State, Wissanu said, adding that after a process of hearing opinions, the legislation would be deliberated by the Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) respectively.
Local elections could take place and lifting the political ban could be considered only after that process, Wissanu said.
All decisions concerning the election and political ban would be made by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), he insisted.
Regarding concerns over preparations by political parties to be eligible to run in the next election, Wissanu said the NCPO would not prevent them from activities such as registering members.
Meetings of between five and 10 people might not always be counted as political activity, he said, adding that he believed political parties could operate under such conditions.
On Wednesday, chief charter writer Meechai Ruchupan proposed amending the organic law specifying deadlines for political parties. In response, Wissanu said yesterday that he did not want to be leading on the issue, but added that there were a few ways in which an amendment was possible.
For example, the Cabinet could make the amendment with the approval of related independent agencies, he said. At least 25 NLA members could also push for an amendment or related independent agencies could propose it, Wissanu said.
If the law is amended, the parties would no longer face a “ticking clock”, Wissanu said.