PM says removal of election commissioner Somchai is necessary

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday (March 22) defended his use of special power vested by Section 44 of the interim Constitution to fire election commissioner Somchai Srisuttiyakorn, saying that the abrupt move was necessary to put an end to confusion.

Speaking to reporters during his field trip to Nong Bua Lam Phu, the prime minister insisted that he did not bully the election commissioner, adding that the latter’s removal from the Election Commission was “asked for by a concerned agency”.

“I didn’t want to invoke (Section 44) against anybody.  The media, please, do not expand it as it was over and he (Somchai) was aware of it,” said the prime minister as he pleaded with the media to stop reporting about the issue “otherwise he (Somchai) will keep talking more and more and what measure do I have to deal with it.”

He said that he had been listening to Somchai for the past four years and, lately, the latter suggested that the election could be held in October.

“I wonder whether it is him (Somchai) who set the election date or is it the NCPO or the government that sets the election date?” asked the prime minister.

Earlier, Mr Somchai said, according to his estimate, the earliest election could be held in October or, the latest, next February.

Although the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) submitted the Senate selection bill for the Constitutional Court’s interpretation, the election roadmap could remain the same, meaning that the election be held by the end of this year, Mr Somchai said. 

In his Facebook post on Thursday, the former election commissioner claimed that his election predictions had been proven right.  He also defended that his political assessments did not cause confusion “but someone was confused”.

He plans to give a press conference on Friday (March 23) to talk about his dismissal from the EC.