KINGDOM'S POLITICAL CRISIS
Crucial summit by court chiefs
Election may be nullified and a new poll called after the Supreme, Constitution and Administrative Court heads meet
The presidents of the Supreme Court, Administrative Court and Constitutional Court will hold an unprecedented meeting tomorrow to determine all legal and constitutional aspects of the electoral process. This will, most probably, lead to nullification of the April 2 snap election.
The historic meeting of top judges from the highest courts of the land follows a rare speech by His Majesty the King to Administrative Court and Supreme Court judges on Tuesday. The King told the judges to work together to find a way out to end the current political quagmire as the current ballots would not produce a legitimate Parliament.
His Majesty said an election dominated by one party was not democratic. He also questioned the legitimacy of the new Parliament, which may not have all the 500 MPs required for a quorum.
"The presidents of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and Supreme Administrative Courts are to discuss how best to guide the country out of the political crisis caused by the incomplete results of the April 2 election," Judge Jaran Pakdithanakul said yesterday.
Legally, the issues are not too difficult to resolve, but it is vital that the situation be tackled with care and in a fashion that upholds the national interest, Jaran added.
He called for all the conflicting parties to stop fanning the flames of political bitterness to give the judiciary a chance to resolve the situation.
The full bench of 87 Supreme Court judges are expected to hold a closed meeting today first to find a common stand regarding the electoral outcome. Then Supreme Court President Chanchai Likhitjittha would consult and compare notes with his counterparts - Phan Chantarapan of the Constitution Court, and Ackaratorn Chularat of the Supreme Administrative Court.
Ackaratorn said the courts and politicians should follow the King's advice and work together to overcome the crisis.
"Everyone has clearly heard the royal statement and should have understood it," he said.
He added that he has no opinion yet on whether the poll results should be cancelled.
"Please do not try to interpret the royal statement and jump to an early conclusion about the election cancellation because every dispute would have to be resolved in accordance with the law," he said.
Phan of the Constitution Court said he held a meeting yesterday with his fellow judges to determine the legal and constitutional aspects involving the electoral process, which consisted of four major issues.
First, the Constitutional Court judges looked at their jurisdiction involving in the electoral process. Second, they reviewed the status of the present electoral system. Third, they looked at royal power through Article 7 of the Constitution. Fourth, they would come up with recommendations to share with the judges of other courts.
Phan said he expected the judicial intervention would lead to an amicable solution.
Phan said he would listen to his fellow judges at today's meeting for ideas on how to resolve the crisis and would discuss the jurisdiction of his court.
Due to a boycott from the Opposition parties, the April 2 snap election has run into a big snag. A host of the Thai Rak Thai candidates have been outvoted by "no-votes". Dozens of constituencies in the virtual one-party election have rejected TRT candidates, who have failed to muster at least 20 per cent of the votes.
The Election Commission has also been criticised for conducting the electoral process in a biased way, with decisions favouring the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party and contrary to several election laws.
However, Election Commission chairman Vasana Puemlarp was defiant yesterday and signalled that the third round of balloting would go ahead unless the country's three top courts rule otherwise.
"The EC is duty-bound to manage the electoral process within the timeframe as specified by the election law," he said.
EC member Prinya Nakchudtree dismissed speculation that the royal comments on Tuesday were critical of the election outcome. "The EC will definitely heed the royal advice - that is to complete the electoral process in order to activate the House to form the next government," he said.
The People's Network for Election (PNet) yesterday urged the Election Commission (EC) to cancel the third round of elections in the South in the constituencies where single candidates had failed twice to win the minimum required votes.
Asked whether the election should be cancelled, General Ruengroj Mahasaranont, the Supreme Commander, said: "It should be that way. All the people in the country should help each other in order to end the problems. The speech of His Majesty the King at the end called for us to work with each other to find a way out."
Somchai Preechasilapakul, a law lecturer at Chiang Mai University, said the only way out of the current political deadlock is to nullify the April 2 election and call for a new election, with all major parties participating.
"Even though Thai Rak Thai would return to form the new government, the new government must commit to political reform and show how to resolve all problems in order to rebuild society," he said.