BANGKOK, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Thai acting foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul on Saturday lambasted an election commissioner for "talking too much" only to confuse foreigners about the country's trouble-plagued polls.
In a press conference, Surapong criticized Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn for "talking too much" about the Feb. 2 election and its advance voting only to confuse dozens of foreign diplomats recently invited to a briefing by the polling agency.
Speaking to the diplomats, Somchai remarked that a post- election government might not be set up over the next six months unless the caretaker government has held talks with leaders of anti-government, anti-election protesters to end their prolonged street protests.
Surapong said the commissioner should not have made such comments at the cost of the foreigners' confidence in Thailand's democratic rule and political stability while the country's tourism and economic climate also remain at stake.
"Foreign affairs are a very delicate matter about which those who do not understand should refrain from talking too much.
"It's the primary duty of the foreign minister to talk about it. Somchai's comments did not do any good to the country. He should have talked less and worked more," said the frustrated Surapong.
Somchai has been accused of dragging his feet over the effort to organize a by-election in the troubled constituencies as he repeatedly insisted that he not do it without a second royal decree to be issued by the caretaker government.
But the government headed by acting premier Yingluck Shinawatra argued that the sought-after decree would only be repetitive to the one earlier issued and that the polling agency could do the by- election by its own mandate.
Both sides have apparently feared that they might possibly violate the constitution and electoral law regarding the by- election issue, however.
According to the constitution and electoral law, no post- election government can be formed until parliament has opened to pick an elected prime minister.
But no parliament can open in lack of a minimum of 95 percent of a total of 500 elected legislators, which amounts to 475.
Given the turmoils which effectually disrupted the electoral process in the capital, a few central provinces and those in the southern region, there will be only 472 MPs, thus needing three more to open parliament in the first place.
Hordes of protesters, directed by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban and several ex-Democrat Party lawmakers, effectually kept ballots from reaching polling units and barred voters from casting their votes. In some of the southern constituencies, they eventually barred electoral candidates from applying.
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Under normal circumstances, a prime minister can be named and a government formed within weeks after a nationwide parliamentary election. Full story
Thai police attempt to reclaim protest sites in Bangkok
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Around 500 police officers in body armors and helmets arrived in vans at a rally site near the Government Complex at around 9:30 a.m. local time, forming a standoff with protesters encamped there. Full story