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Election decree issued; EC to set date for national vote

Published January 23, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362777

Election decree issued; EC to set date for national vote

politics January 23, 2019 11:25

By The Nation

The expected royal decree ordering a general election of members of Parliament was issued on Wednesday (January 23).

The constitutional process calls for the Election Commission (EC) to announce a date for the long-awaited election within five days of the decree taking effect on Wednesday with its publication in the Royal Gazette.

The law was issued at the command of His Majesty the King and was undersigned by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The four-clause law puts the president of the EC in charge of ensuring adherence to the royal decree.

It requires the EC to formally announce the date of the election in the Royal Gazette within five days of the decree coming into force.

The election date must be no less than 45 days and no more than 60 days from the day the decree takes effect.

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Facebook pledges to support integrity of general election

Published January 23, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362750

Facebook pledges to support integrity of general election

politics January 23, 2019 04:00

By ASINA PORNWASIN
THE NATION

FACEBOOK has promised to help ensure the integrity of the Thai election by providing supporting tools and related efforts.

This is part of the social-media giant’s recent decision to help protect and preserve the integrity of elections across the world by blocking disruptive messages spread through the platform. Facebook has previously been used to disrupt polls and referendums in several countries.

Katie Harbath, director of Facebook’s global politics and government division, said the social platform has put in place five measures to protect election integrity, namely, cracking down on fake accounts, reducing the distribution of false news, making advertisement more transparent, disrupting bad actors and supporting an informed electorate. The social-media platform has doubled the number of people working on safety and security issues to 30,000.

Facebook currently has some 52 million active users in Thailand and it is expected to be one of the most influential social-media platforms in the upcoming national election.

Facebook will dedicate teams to work on all upcoming elections to help detect and prevent malicious posts being shared via the site, including those in Thai and other languages.

Blocking ‘inauthentic’ behaviour

“We are absolutely committed to preventing all kinds of inauthentic behaviour on our platform, be it misinformation, misrepresentation, phishing, bullying, violence, harassment, or interfering with elections,” Harbath said. “Combating false news is crucial to the integrity and safety of Thailand’s election, but we cannot do this alone. We believe it requires a concerted effort across the industry, civil society and the government.”

Facebook will use both automatic and human processes to identify fake accounts, with its security systems running in the background at millions of times per second. It is also using artificial intelligence and has so far managed to identify and remove over 99.6 per cent of fake accounts In the second and third quarters of 2018 alone, around 1.5 billion fake accounts have been removed from Facebook.

The social-media giant says it is committed to tackling false news, takes action against those who repeatedly violate its policies, is reducing the spread of problematic content and informs the community through additional content.

“We are exploring how to promote awareness and share our ‘Tips to Spot False News’ in partnership with local organisations to consumers through a public service announcement both on and off the platform,” Harbath added. “We will host a training session for our Thai news partners and leading media organisations to share best practices for newsrooms, including elections coverage, case studies and highlights.”

To make advertising more transparent, she said anyone can now view active Facebook Page ads across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and its partner network. People can also learn more about the pages, even if they are not advertised. For instance, they can see any recent name change or date the page was created.

Facebook aims to disrupt bad actors through detection, taking action and adapting. Harmful types of election-related activity are flagged up for manual review. Security teams investigate suspicious activity and take down violating accounts.

The platform has also been supporting an informed electorate through the election journey including registering to vote, making a voting plan, voting and getting friends to do the same and connecting with new representatives.

Prayut open to joining a ‘selfless, hardworking’ political party

Published January 23, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362749

Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prayut open to joining a ‘selfless, hardworking’ political party

politics January 23, 2019 01:00

By KAS CHANWANPEN
THE NATION

JUNTA LEADER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has not ruled out the possibility of returning to politics after an election and said he might join a hard-working and selfless party amid political uncertainty and widespread criticism that the junta is trying to put off an election.

Prayut said he was waiting to see if any parties would invite him to be their candidate for premier. He said he would consider their proposals.

“If I need to continue my work, I’ll need to be with some party,” the junta leader said. “However, that party has to be hardworking and dedicated and not trying to undo everything built and achieved [in the past four years].”

Asked if the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party is the best option for him, Prayut said he had not been contacted by the party.

Prayut yesterday was unable to provide a clear answer on the election date despite mounting public curiosity and concern. The Royal Decree that would partly determine the date would be published in the Royal Gazette in a couple of days, he said.

The premier also dismissed the demand of a pro-election group that the government make a clear announcement on the poll, dismissing them as a small group of 200 protesters who are the “same old faces”. He urged the public not to give them attention.

It is believed that the election would be postponed by one month to March 24 instead of the previously planned February 24. But the date cannot be finalised until the Royal Decree on the poll is published in the Royal Gazette and the Election Commission formally calls an election and determines the date.

Prayut said that even after the Royal Decree is issued, the government would continue working as usual.

There has been criticism over some Cabinet members becoming members of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party and refusing to give up their current posts. Prayut insisted yesterday that the government and its members still had to do their job.

Prayut asked critics not to view as unfair the ministers’ meetings with voters during the mobile Cabinet sessions in different provinces in what is perceived as an attempt to steal a march over other politicians contesting in the upcoming election. The government only works for the public interest, he said.

The junta leader yesterday stressed that the coup-installed government had made a substantial contribution to the country.

“Please don’t say that the government didn’t do anything. Just see the report for this year. It is this thick,” Prayut said, indicating an inch with his fingers.

The junta chief also warned politicians to consider whether the policies they were campaigning on were feasible, because of the strict rules and regulations on the budget and expenditure.

“You keep on talking but I’m not sure if you can really do it,” Prayut said. “The National Anti-Corruption Commission has lengthy regulations about this, too. If you get sued, [bear in mind] that everything follows the law.”

Bodies found in Mekong those of Surachai’s aides

Published January 23, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362748

Photo credit Prachatai.com
Photo credit Prachatai.com

Bodies found in Mekong those of Surachai’s aides

politics January 23, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

DNA tests confirm identities; both found strangled and drowned in river; activist not heard from since December 12

A FORENSIC report confirmed yesterday that DNA samples collected from two dead bodies found on the banks of the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom a few days ago matched the DNA of two missing dissidents who were close aides of former anti-monarchist activist Surachai “Saedan” Danwattananusorn.

An official report from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Bangkok’s Police Hospital indicated that one of the bodies might be that of leftist activist “Comrade Kasalong” as its DNA matches that of his son, Nakhon Phanom police chief Pol Major Thanachart Rodklongtan said.

Meanwhile, the DNA of the son of another political activist “Comrade Poochana” matched that of the second body.

Both Kasalong and Poochana, along with Surachai, had not been heard from since December 12, according to their relatives, who believed they might have been living in exile in neighbouring Laos.

The relatives of Surachai’s two aides called on police to test the DNA of the two bodies, aged between 30 and 50, after hearing that they might be those of their missing relatives.

The two men, whose bodies were found on the banks of the Mekong on December 27 and 29, appeared to have been killed in the same manner – handcuffed and strangled by rope. Their bodies were then weighted down with concrete blocks, wrapped in a net and sack and dumped into the Mekong River, which borders Thailand and Laos.

The 75-year-old former communist insurgent, Surachai, who actively joined the red-shirt movement, had sought refuge in Laos after the May 2014 military coup.

The last time his associates had heard from him was on December 12, when he called them from Laos on a cellphone, a Facebook post by Phouphaaseree Saren said. The post said his house in Laos’ Bolikamxay province was left unlocked, the van he regularly used was still parked and his belongings were untouched. The two fugitives living with him – Poochana and Kasalong – have also gone missing, the post read.

National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC) Angkhana Neelapaijit said the relatives of Surachai’s two aides had contacted her earlier to express their concern. “I told them to lodge a complaint with police for further investigation, and if they fear injustice, they can seek assistance from the NHRC,” she told The Nation.

Several red-shirt dissidents fled Thailand after the Yingluck Shinawatra government was ousted in a military coup in 2014.

Many of the dissidents in exile are considered to be hardcore red-shirts who also have anti-monarchy sentiments. Five of these dissidents, including Ittipon “DJ Sunho” Sukpaen and Wuttipong “Ko-Tee” Kotthammakhun, have reportedly gone missing.

Their associates say they were murdered in Laos, but there has been no official confirmation and the Laos authorities have refused to acknowledge they had ever lived in the country.

Meanwhile, Surachai’s wife Pranee Danwattananusorn told Prachatai news website that she had lost contact with her husband a long time ago and had only heard about his disappearance via media, adding that all she could do at this point is pray for his safety.

Article 44 may be used for poll postponement

Published January 22, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362687

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha

Article 44 may be used for poll postponement

Breaking News January 22, 2019 01:00

By KAS CHANWANPEN,
NATTAPAT PHROMKAEW
THE NATION

2,461 Viewed

PUNDITS SAY FURTHER DELAYS WOULD CREATE POLITICAL BLACK HOLE, LEAD TO UNPREDICTABILITY

POLITICAL scientists warned yesterday that the elections may be postponed beyond March 24, and there is a high chance that it will be held after the coronation of the King if the Royal Decree is not published this week.

Describing Article 44, which grants the junta leader absolute power to overrule even the Constitution, as a “wonder of law”, political scientists at the “Election 2019?” forum said it could very well be used to postpone the elections.

The forum was held at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan Campus.

Prajak Kongkirati, a political scientist from the university, said it will not bode well if the Royal Decree is not issued this week as promised by government officials.

Though the current most likely election date is March 24, Prajak said if it was to be postponed, then it will likely be held after May 9 – the final date forced by the Constitution.

“Though it will be unconstitutional, holding it after May 9 may still be possible with the ‘wonder of law’,” the expert said. “However, that would mean we enter a political black hole where the Constitution is meaningless and no rules are the norm other than Article 44.” In fact, Prajak said, a pessimistic few believe an election may not even be a possibility this year.

This is taking into account a recent movement calling for peace before the elections. A group, calling itself “Unity before Election”, took to the streets on Saturday demanding that pro-election protesters stop making demands.

The group said this was not the time to demand an election, especially since the country is getting ready to celebrate the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in May. This, the scientists said, may suggest that the election could be further postponed.

On Saturday, ultra-rightist Army officer Maj-General Tanasak Mitrapanont, posted a video on YouTube, saying the election should be postponed to focus on the coronation. In the clip, Tanasak calls on Thai netizens to launch a campaign both online and offline for the elections to be delayed for the sake of this special occasion for royalists.

Prajak also indicated that there have been moves to push a new discourse that the elections should not be held until there is peace in society.

However, the political expert pointed out that failing to hold an election would only put Thailand in a state of “uncertainty” and “unpredictability”.

State of uncertainty

“We keep making promises to the international community, but then we keep putting the elections off. This makes us look erratic,” he said. “With this unpredictability, governments and investors have no idea what to expect from us. This is not good for the country or anyone.”

This also generates tension within the country, the expert said.

“An election is a political process where people reconcile [their differences]. It brings conflict into the system,” Prajak said. “Not having reliable rules is dangerous. It means that we have to resort to violence and resolve the issues in the street.”

The idea of achieving peace before election is a myth, Prajak stressed, adding that differences and conflicts are common and we need an election to sort them out and ease the tension.

Other political scientists, Siriphan Noksuan Sawasdee and Stithorn Thananithichot, agreed that the junta may resort to using Article 44 to reschedule the election given the current uncertainty. Siriphan, too, said this would create a black hole in politics, but the best way to go about it would be to at least set a timeframe, such as 60 days after the coronation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha told the press yesterday: “[The Royal Decree] will be out soon. Calm down. It’ll be out very soon.” However, he refused to say exactly when it will be published despite the public’s intense curiosity and concern.

Why Suthep, Prayut slowly drifted apart

Published January 21, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362594

Suthep Thaugsuban
Suthep Thaugsuban

Why Suthep, Prayut slowly drifted apart

Breaking News January 21, 2019 01:00

By SOMROUTAI SAPSOMBOON
THE NATION

2,108 Viewed

Once a staunch supporter of junta chief, ex-democrat now cooling off on backing prime minister’s return at govt helm.

VETERAN POLITICIAN Suthep Thaugsuban, once a staunch supporter of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, appears to be viewing the junta chief differently now, compared to the days when they were “friends in arms”.

Likewise, Prime Minister Prayut is not likely to see Suthep the same way as he did when he came to power following the 2014 military coup that he led while serving as Army chief.

Their friendship – developed before Prayut became premier and leader of the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – appears to be facing a tough test after almost five years.

In June 2014, just a month after the coup, Suthep said he had communicated with General Prayut during the anti-government protests that culminated in power seizure.

Suthep said this at a fundraising event for protesters injured during the anti-government rally organised by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). He was PDRC secretary-general at the time.

Between November 2013 and May 2014, Suthep led street protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government after it pushed an amnesty bill that would benefit all people involved in political conflicts, including corrupt politicians and killers of protesters.

Suthep, who formerly held the powerful position of secretary of the Democrat Party, quit the party to lead the protests and – to convince protesters he had no conflict of interest – promised not to get involved in politics again for the rest of his life.

He announced at the fundraiser that, through a phone chat app, General Prayut as Army chief had told him shortly before invoking martial law: “You and the PDRC people have become weary already. From now on, it’s the Army’s duty to take care on your behalf.”

He also claimed that he had spoken to Prayut about getting rid of the so-called Thaksin regime after the red-shirt street protests against the Democrat-led government in 2010.

Now, the NCPO appears to be dismissing Suthep’s claims about the junta chief and the distance between Suthep and Prayut is getting wider.

In July 2014, the former protest leader became ordained as a Buddhist monk, but left the monkhood a year later.

In late 2017, Suthep returned to politics by announcing his support for Prayut to return as prime minister after the next election. He formed a new political party called Action Coalition for Thailand, but said he would take no executive position or contest in the elections, to partly keep his promise of not getting involved in politics again.

However, when a new pro-junta party Phalang Pracharat was formed specifically to back Prayut’s return to power, Suthep’s stance as his staunch supporter weakened. He said his support for Prayut was just his “personal view” and that his party would decide later whether to back Prayut.

A source, who is a Prayut backer, said they were treating Suthep’s party as an “uncertain supporter”, unlike Phalang Pracharat and former senator Paiboon Nititawan’s People Reform Party, which are both firmly backing Prayut as a top contender for the PM’s post.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Suthep initially wanted the Democrat Party to play a key role in supporting Prayut’s return to power. However, no deal could be reached, which is why he had to create his own party.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, a key figure in the government, also wanted to set up a party to back Prayut, so certain senior members of the junta had to step in and talk both Suthep and Somkid into creating a new party together. However, no agreement could be reached as to who would be in charge of this party, so both of them went separate ways to create their own parties.

Though Somkid has denied any involvement in Phalang Pracharat, four Cabinet members who are top executives of the party are his men in the government’s economic team.

Suthep, meanwhile, failed to get General Prayut as his party’s prime ministerial candidate, because Phalang Pracharat appeared to appeal to the general more as it has drawn more than 100 former MPs and well-known politicians.

The veteran politician, meanwhile, appears to be in a difficult position – suffering from an image problem and being criticised for going back on his word about staying away from politics.

Maybe Suthep is among the people waiting patiently to get even with General Prayut.

Poll shows people worried elections may not even be held

Published January 21, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362588

file photo
file photo

Poll shows people worried elections may not even be held

Breaking News January 20, 2019 18:28

By The Nation

2,177 Viewed

Since relevant agencies have failed to publish the electoral Royal Decree to announce a date for the national elections, uncertainty over whether the vote will even be held has become a top concern, a Suan Dusit poll learned recently.

Conducted on 1,071 respondents from January 15 to 19, the survey found that 48.46 per cent ranked election uncertainty as their top worry, saying they were afraid it might not happen at all.

The government said last month that the Royal Decree will be published on January 2, but recently said the election will be postponed by a whole month to March 24, as it may clash with the coronation ceremony in May.

The election was initially scheduled for February 24.

This move has provoked pro-election groups to take to the streets and demand clarity. They are also asking for an election to be organised quickly.

Coming in at No 2 on the list of top 10 political concerns right now is conflict and turmoil. Some 40.9 per cent of the respondents said they were worried that division and disagreements would lead to unrest.

More than a third, or 36.69 per cent, said they were worried about recession and a drop in investor confidence.

Corruption, including poll fraud, and government instability came in fourth and fifth with 30.63 and 24.18 per cent respectively.

The five other concerns were hunger for power, Thailand’s reputation, the impact politics is having on people’s quality of life, deprivation of rights and pseudo democracy, as well as fake news.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by NIDA on 2,500 people between January 2 and 15 found that junta leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha was preferred as the next premier (26.2 per cent).

Coming in second was Pheu Thai’s Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan with 22.40 votes, while former PM and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva came in third with 11.56 per cent. The new, young pro-democracy politician, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who is leader of the Future Forward Party, came in fourth with 9.60 per cent.

Other politicians ranking from fifth to the 10th place were Seree Ruam Thai Party leader Pol General Sereepisut Temeeyaves, Pheu Thai’s Chatchart Sittiphan, Democrat’s former leader and ex-PM Chuan Leekpai, Pheu Thai leader Viroj Pao-in, Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul and incumbent Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam.

GOING TO THE POLLS

Published January 19, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362512

NATION GRAPHICS/PRADIT PHULSARIKIJ
NATION GRAPHICS/PRADIT PHULSARIKIJ

GOING TO THE POLLS

politics January 19, 2019 01:00

By PRADIT PHULSARIKIJ
NATION GRAPHICS

Since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thailand has seen 27 general elections. The first one took place in November 1933. The latest was held in February 2014, although it was later declared unconstitutional by the court.

Junta digs in its heels over March 24 as election date

Published January 18, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362470

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Junta digs in its heels over March 24 as election date

politics January 18, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

GROUP THREATENS TO TAKE TO STREETS IF ROYAL DECREE NOT PUBLISHED BY TODAY

THE GOVERNMENT is standing firm on March 24 as the perfect date for the nation to cast their votes, despite criticism over the repeated deferment of the national poll.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday reiterated that the government’s main priority is to avoid poll-related activities overlapping with the coronation in May.

He added that the other two dates proposed – March 10 or 17 – were not as convenient as March 24.

Wissanu explained that March 10 was a little too close, considering that the Royal Decree on the election has yet to be published, while March 17 will overlap with university entrance exams for hundreds of thousands of 12th graders, many of whom will become eligible voters.

“So, March 24 appears to be the most appropriate date,” he said. “Also the Royal Decree can be expected next week as stated by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.”

However, concerns over the election’s constitutionality remain prevalent as the government tries to postpone election by a whole month from the previously planned February 24.

The Constitution stipulates that the election should be completed within 150 days once electoral laws come into effect. Some political observers say the timeframe should include the endorsement of the poll results in addition to the voting itself.

Wissanu, however, insisted yesterday that the timeframe only covers the casting of ballots. He said the results can be announced within 60 days after the voting, independent of the 150-day period.

Though the final decision will remain in the hands of the Election Commission (EC), he added. If the agency is able to have everything completed within the 150-day timeframe without affecting the coronation, the government will accept it, Wissanu said.

Meanwhile, the pro-election movement continues calling on the government to be clear about organising an election and has set today as the deadline for the Royal Decree to be published. If the decree misses the deadline, people are expected to gather around Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue to protest.

Wissanu, however, said the government did not feel any pressure from the threat.

Separately, the movement’s leader Sirawith Seritiwat told The Nation yesterday that protesters remained firm in their demand that the government publish the Royal Decree as soon as possible.

“Only when the Royal Decree is published can we be certain of an election taking place,” the activist said, referring to the Constitution’s stipulation that an election date must be announced within five days once the electoral Royal Decree is published.

Sirawith vowed to lead more protests until the government can provide clarity about an election by publishing the Royal Decree.

Though it would be best if the junta could keep its promise and hold an election on February 24, Sirawith said he was willing to accept a delay considering the coronation.

However, he believe March 10 would be a better date as it is not |too far from February 24 that was previously set.

PM finally says it: election date will be changed

Published January 17, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/politics/30362387

File photo: Prayut Chan-o-cha
File photo: Prayut Chan-o-cha

PM finally says it: election date will be changed

Breaking News January 17, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

2,319 Viewed

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha appeared to admit for the first time yesterday that the expected election date would be altered after weeks of uncertainty.

“We’re going towards full democracy. There will be an election no matter what,” the junta leader said. “[The election date] will be changed but still it will be by May 9.” He was referring to the deadline set by the Constitution prescribing that the poll must be held within 150 days after the electoral organic laws were in effect.

This is the first time Prayut has admitted that no matter what, the election will have to be rescheduled from the previously planned date of February 24. With the Royal Coronation Ceremony scheduled in recent weeks for May 4-6, the government has said a rescheduling may be needed to avoid a clash with the post-ceremony |period in which King Maha Vajiralongkorn has related duties.

Prayut yesterday made it clear: “I want this important occasion to be peaceful … the election should not overlap the important occasion. That’s the only reason.”

In the two weeks since the possibility of an election delay was put on the table, pro-election protesters and members of the public have expressed dissatisfaction over the repeated postponements and have demanded that the government maintain February 24 as the poll day.

Protests have been seen in many areas inside and outside Bangkok. Unless the government confirms the election date by Friday a major demonstration will be staged the following day by a pro-election group led by Sirawith Seritiwat and Nuttaa Mahuttana at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

More protests

Outside Bangkok, similar rallies are taking place at universities in different provinces. Students and members of the public yesterday joined a movement at Khon Kaen University calling for a speedy election. Protests are planned today and tomorrow for Burapha University in Chon Buri province, Silpakorn University in Nakhon Pathom province, Chiang Mai University in Chiang Mai province and in front of Government House in Bangkok.

The Royal Decree that would order an election be held has yet to be published in the Royal Gazette.

Meanwhile, there has been a strong sign of the election being put off until March 24. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has said it could be a perfect date, given that the post-election activities would not be likely to clash with the royal enthronement in May.

Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma also signalled yesterday that March 24 was a feasible date. The agency could finalise the election results within 45 days instead of the 60 days allowed by the Constitution, he said.

In that time frame, the election results could be announced by May 9. A debate has arisen over whether the 150-day time frame for holding the election should include this announcement or be limited to the voting.

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