Uncertainty still lingers over whether political parties can begin election campaigns, even though the regime has lifted its prohibition on political activities.
Despite this, political parties have opted to stay on the safe side by avoiding any election campaigning until Jan 2 when a royal decree calling for the Feb 24 election of MPs will be published in the Royal Gazette.
The Feb 24 poll date was officially confirmed at a meeting last Friday between the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and party representatives.
While Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Tuesday that political parties may now engage in all kinds of political activities, the Election Commission (EC) still had doubts.
EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said he could not tell if political parties can engage in election campaigning and first has to study the regime’s latest order allowing parties to conduct political activities.
He said the lifting of the political ban has been well-timed to coincide with the promulgation of the law governing the election of MPs.
Mr Wissanu said that the law on the election of MPs stipulates that election campaigning is allowed when the royal decree on the election of MPs is issued, and that the EC will determine how campaigns are conducted.
Therefore, while waiting for the royal decree to come into force, parties can engage in all kinds of political activities and these activities are not considered election campaigning, Mr Wissanu said.
Now, parties are no longer required to obtain permission from the NCPO to hold meetings or appear on stage to address the public, he added.
“One can say the latest order lets political parties loose…. This is better than when the royal decree comes out because things [election campaigns] must be regulated by law,” Mr Wissanu said.
Democrat spokesman Thana Chiravinij welcomed the lifting of the ban, although he thought election campaigning would not be permitted until Jan 2 when the royal decree is issued.
In fact, actual election campaigns will take place after poll candidacy applications are submitted between Jan 14 to 18, he said.
Key Pheu Thai Party figure, Chalerm Ubumrung, said that the lifting of the political ban only permits political activities such as political gatherings, but election campaigns are still banned.
He believed politicians can go on stage to canvass for votes only after the enforcement of the royal decree on the election of MPs. Worachai Hema, a former Pheu Thai MP from Samut Prakan, said the lifting of the political ban still caused confusion as it was unclear if election campaigns were still banned.
“Is this a trap laid for us? What if we engage in activities seen to be election campaigns and they take action against us?” Mr Worachai said.
Continue reading Bangkok Post: Parties wary despite lift of political ban