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Charter drafters oppose EC having the power to disqualify election candidates

Jul 14. 2015
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THE Constitution Drafting Committee could not accept the Election Commission (EC)'s proposal to maintain its authority to disqualify election candidates, CDC spokesman Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said yesterday.
The CDC had resolved to transfer the EC’s power to issue “red cards” to the courts. EC member Somchai Srisuthiya-korn said the election agency would ask the CDC today to maintain its power to issue red and yellow cards to candidates.
The EC resolved that they would present the CDC a five-point proposal today: 
 Before an election date, if any candidates violate the electoral law, the EC has the right to disqualify them, given that the Council of State approves with the disqualification;
 After an election and before results are announced, the EC can issue yellow cards to candidates if it finds election fraud has been committed but there is no evidence to link it to election candidates;
 After yellow cards are issued, if the same group of candidates commit an electoral offence again, the EC can issue an “orange card”, which deprives them of the right to run in the election;
 Before poll results are announced, if there is evidence linking any candidate to electoral fraud, the EC can issue a “red card” and remove the political right of the candidate for one year;
 After results are announced, the EC can file cases with the Court of Appeals in regard to electoral fraud, whether it has evidence linking candidates or not. If the court rules in line with the EC’s ruling, a re-election will be held in cases when yellow cards are issued. In cases in which candidates are given red cards, they would be banned from politics for life.
Somchai said the EC agreed with the proposal to allow the court to ban politicians for life if they are found guilty of election fraud. Statistics showed that over the past 10 years, the EC issued 82 yellow cards, but 95 per cent of these people were still elected. This showed that giving yellow cards did not solve political problems and was a waste of taxpayers’ money as they had to hold more elections.
The EC would also ask the CDC for the right to summon evidence and witnesses during probes and seek support from state agencies to probe election cases, he said.
The EC also disapproved of provisions in the charter draft that ban judges and judicial officials from becoming EC members. It believed the commission needs judges who are legal specialists.
Responding to the National Reform Council’s proposal to set up a special court handling only graft cases, Kamnoon said a provisional clause would be written to allow the setting up of a court handling corruption cases, should the number of these cases rise. He said speeding up graft trials was not a good reason to set up a new court.
He said the CDC yesterday amended Article 240 to allowing appeals to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders. Appeals were not allowed if there was no new information in the earlier version of the charter draft.

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