By Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The unrest on Sunday that prompted the Thai authorities to call off the advance voting for MPs in the capital and southern constituencies should not be used as a pretext for the rescheduling of a general election, according to former Election Commissioner Sodsri Satayadham.
Sodsri made her comments in anticipation of Tuesday's decision by acting premier Yingluck Shinawatra and Election Commission Chief Supachai Somcharoen as to whether or not the nationwide polls scheduled on February 2 should be moved to another date following a petition earlier lodged by the polling agency for the Constitutional Court to pass judgment on.
But, according to the former election commissioner, the Constitutional Court cannot legally issue any ruling for or against on such a matter or have the election rescheduled.
Neither the caretaker government nor the Election Commission, which is primarily tasked to prepare and conduct the election, cab decide to postpone the electoral exercise, Sodsri said.
She said that laws must be observed and followed no matter what the consequences would be. Some election commissioners have expressed concerns about the possible outbreak of more violence and bloodshed if the election is held as scheduled on Feb. 2 "but such concerns are by no means substantiated by law." "Even if the election is postponed, how can the Election Commission guarantee that there will be no violence and bloodshed when the polls are held on a later date?" Sodsri asked.
According to Sodfsri the current unrests were not caused by the lame-duck government but by those who have perpetrated unlawful acts only because they do not want the holding of the election.
She referred to the prolonged anti-government protesters led by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban and several of his colleagues in the Democrat Party, who have pressed Yingluck to step down instead of pushing for the holding of the polls. Their group was behind the disruption of Sunday's advance voting.
The anti-government protesters stopped voters from going to the polls and this prompted election officials to call it off in 89 out of a total of 375 constituencies across the country.
The turmoil in the capital and southern provinces represented 23.7 percent of the country's total constituencies, which are mostly from the northern, northeastern, eastern and central regions of the country.
"The turbulence has prevailed since the government failed to enforce the state of emergency, which has been obviously challenged by the street protesters. It remains to be seen when their influential masterminds will ever give way to electoral process,'' Sodsri said without naming the so-called masterminds.
But Suthep and the other bigwigs of the opposition have expressed their strong objection to the holding of the polls but instead called for the creation of an unelected council that will govern Thailand.
Many analysts have said that the reason why the political opposition does not want to participate in the scheduled election is that the ruling party headed by Yingluck would surely win given its strong support in the countryside.
Sodsri stressed that the Constitutional Court is not legally empowered to reschedule the election as requested by the Election Commission.
The court merely offered an advice, not a judgment, to the caretaker government and the polling agency for them to go to parliament and ask for the postponement of the election through a legislative fiat. But this is not possible since the parliament has been dissolved. "Such advise of the court, however, is not backed by any article of the constitution or any organic law," Sodsri said.
Under a royal decree governing the nationwide election, the polls need to be held within 60 days from the date on which it was issued in accordance with the constitution. Both the caretaker government and the polling agency could be charged with negligence of duty if the parliamentary election is not held as scheduled.
For that reason, Sodrsi strongly advised Yingluck to strictly abide by the law and go ahead with the Feb. 2 election following her dissolution of parliament last month.