NCPO urged to lift ban on politics

Political parties have slammed the regime for signalling a delay in lifting the political ban following the discovery of an arms cache.

They are urging the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to lift the ban on political activities as the deadline for political parties to file updated membership reports is on Tuesday.

Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat asked the NCPO to clarify whether political parties’ activities – such as general assemblies, executive meetings and selection of candidates – will be allowed.

As the organic law on political parties is already in effect, there might be insufficient time for parties to prepare for an election, since the laws on election of MPs and selection of senators require an election to be held within 150 days, he said.

“I think the intention to allow political activities only close to the election means the NCPO does not want political parties to engage in activities in case it leads to unrest. But that is contrary to the laws, which in principle we should follow,” Mr Nipit said.

Pheu Thai’s former Lop Buri MP Amnuay Klangpha said national security and political issues needed to be separated. As organic laws have been announced, the laws and the roadmap must be followed.

“You have to recognise the difference between politics and security issues. Those who are threats to national security must face legal action. If you say that all politial activities must stop every time a group tries to cause trouble, then what are military and police officers there for?” he asked.

Although the organic law on political parties has been in effect since Oct 7, the NCPO’s ban on political gatherings of five people and on other political activities is still in force. Meanwhile, the provision of the organic law on political parties requires parties to update their membership database within 90 days.

After the discovery of war weapons in a rice field in Chachoengsao over the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Friday said he had received intelligence reports that some groups of people had begun to form political movements, and the lifting of the ban of political activities is not likely in the near future but could be lifted nearer the general election.

Former Pheu Thai deputy secretary-general Chavalit Wichayasuthi said the NCPO is not following the law by using Section 44 — the special power of the NCPO chief — to override the organic law on political parties.

“Thailand might make history as the only country in the world that will have a democratic election but with Section 44 to regulate it before, during and after the poll until a new government is formed,” he said.

NCPO spokesman Piyapong Klinpan yesterday said politicians were just playing their roles, and they were aware of the timeline and what the laws say.

The decision on when to lift the political ban will depend on the requirement of the law, the orderliness of the country and “other factors” on which he could not elaborate, he said.

“I insist that everything is being done according to the law and the announced roadmap. But the current situation will also be taken into consideration. In a particular situation, we have to expedite urgent tasks according to priorities,” he said.

Constitution Drafting Committee chief Meechai Ruchupan said he understood political parties’ concerns about the deadline but believed laws could be amended to solve problems. The NCPO chief must decide what to do.

He defended the NCPO’s right to decide whether to lift the ban on political activities. He said political parties can find ways to update their membership databases without convening all members.

Meanwhile, military officers yesterday went to the house of Natchapol Supattana, aka Mark PitBull, who has over 633,000 followers on Facebook, and took him to 11th Military Circle command after he had criticised the regime in video clips. After 5pm, he took a video of himself in front of his house saying he had clarified each of his video clips to the military and was safely home.

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