Election Commission Bill passed by NLA

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday passed the Election Commission Bill into law by a vote of 194-0 with seven abstentions, disregarding the six objections raised by the Election Commission.

The bill was earlier passed by the NLA on June 9 by a vote of 177-1 with five abstentions.  It was drafted by the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) and amended by an NLA panel that proposed that the current five EC commissioners be removed and replaced by seven new ones.

The EC raised six objections against the amended draft, which were forwarded to a joint committee – comprising five representatives of the NLA, five of the CDA and the EC chairman – for deliberation.

The objections were against Section 11 (3) of the bill relating to the qualifications of panelists selecting EC members; Section 12 (1) regarding the qualifications of EC members; Section 26 on the power of individual EC members;  Section 27 on EC powers in dealing with the election of local administrations; Section 42 on EC authority to conduct an investigation into poll fraud; and Section 70 (1) which requires the present EC members to vacate their posts — which is called the “resetting” approach.

Surachai Liangboonlertchai, deputy NLA president and chairman of the joint committee, reported to the NLA that the committee passed a resolution – with a majority vote – that the six sections do not contravene the contitution.  Therefore, no alterations were made to the Election Commission Bill as previously passed by the NLA.

Supachai Somcharoen, the current EC chairman and a member of the joint committee, rose to debate in defence of the EC’s objections while another member, Pakorn Nilpraphan, a CDA member, took the floor to defend the draft bill as earlier passed by the NLA.

The NLA then voted to pass the Election Commission Bill into law by a vote of 194-0 with seven abstentions.  The bill is to be sent to the prime minister to forward it to His Majesty the King for endorsement in five days.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, an EC member, said the EC would hold a meeting on July 17 to consider whether to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the bill.  The EC would make a final decision on July 18, he added.