ELECTION CHEATING: Ten more MPs could see red

News

EC commissioner says more disqualifications likely after Parliament convenes

The Election Commission is still investigating serious election complaints that may see more than 10 MPs lose their seats.

“We will issue more red cards after Parliament convenes and the prime minister and president are chosen,” EC secretary-general Ekkachai Warunprapha said yesterday when the last batch of 190 top vote-getters were endorsed, allowing Parliament to convene within 30 days of the poll.

A red card – or disqualification – is issued when there is “convincing evidence” of election fraud.

If candidates are red-carded prior to official endorsement, they are banned from running again in the follow-up election and their parties cannot field a replacement.

After official endorsement, red-carded MPs are banned but their parties can select a new candidate.

Disqualified candidates must foot the cost of the election re-run.

Ekkachai said that although red cards were not dealt out to losing candidates, they could still face criminal charges.

In the 2001 general election, the EC disqualified four MP candidates before the voting, while it issued nine red cards and 62 yellow cards after the poll but before official endorsement.

Two endorsed MPs were handed red cards and one was punished with a yellow card.

The EC gives yellow cards to winning candidates it believes have flouted campaign laws, but lacks the hard evidence needed to back red carding.

Yellow-carded candidates can contest the follow-up election.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party yesterday filed a suit with the Supreme Court, seeking an order to force the Election Commission to endorse the victory of its candidate Paramet Potharakun, whom the EC disqualified on charges of having dual party membership.

The court, however, later rejected the petition on grounds of a technicality.

It cited the fact that the suit was filed after the legal deadline during which the Supreme Court was empowered to hear cases regarding qualifications of candidates for this year’s general election, said Somjit Thongsri, an assistant judge of the court.

Democrat deputy secretary-general Thavorn Sennium said he took Paramet to file the suit with the Supreme Court’s Criminal Tribunal for Political Office Holders, asking the court to order the EC to rescind its ruling of February 17 that disqualified Paramet.

Paramet garnered the most votes in the February 6 election, beating Thai Rak Thai candidate Rawat Sirinukun. But the EC ruled that the result had to be nullified as it found that Paramet was also a member of the Mahachon Party.

Rawat won the subsequent by-election last Sunday.

In his suit, Paramet told the Supreme Court that he could not be disqualified because his application to the Mahachon Party had not yet taken effect.

Published on February 25, 2005