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Election Commission fires back at interior minister

by qualityeducation
A voter casts her vote in Samut Prakan province on Aug 9. (File photo Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Election Commission (EC) has shot a broadside at the Interior Ministry for allegedly claiming it was not ready to hold the local elections.

Election commissioners Pakorn Mahannop and Thitichet Nuchanart on Tuesday refuted a claim by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda that the local elections could not be held in the near future because the ministry had to wait for the EC to first train its officials.

The provincial administrative organisations (PAOs) and the tambon administrative organisations (TAOs) come under the supervision of the ministry, which pays for arranging the PAO and TAO polls. The EC takes charge of organising the elections. 

The two commissioners said Gen Anupong only had to look closely around him to know that it was the Interior Ministry which was unprepared for the polls.

Mr Pakorn said the EC announced in April that it was fully equipped to take care of elections for local administrative organisation (LAO) members and executives.

However, he said the Interior Ministry then issued an official document on July 9 saying it was not ready for the polls, which had been expected to be held in the latter half of this year. 

He added that the document, which was sent to provincial governors, explained that some local election constituencies had not been designated in Nakhon Ratchasima, Ranong and Lop Buri.

The EC has always been ready to get the ball rolling, which is in total contradiction to what Gen Anupong has stated. “The interior minister’s claim [that the EC was not prepared for the polls] has put the commission on the spot,” he said. 

If the minister was sincere in decentralising administrative power through local elections, it should set the exact timing of the polls and notify the EC in a month so the commission can announce the poll dates, Mr Pakorn said. 

If, upon hearing from the ministry, the EC was unable to arrange the local polls this year, Mr Pakorn said he would accept responsibility.

He said the designation of local election constituencies was nearly completed and should be finished next week.

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