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Thailand’s new senators report as EC probes election irregularities

Image courtesy of KhaoSod

Thailand’s newly appointed 200 senators have been summoned to report to Parliament today, July 11, while the Election Commission (EC) continues to scrutinise numerous allegations of collusion and other election irregularities.

The senators are expected to collect their certificates tomorrow and on Friday, according to the poll body’s announcement after finalising the results of the three-stage vote that concluded on June 26.

Caretaker Senator Somchai Swangkarn noted that the 250 senators appointed in 2019 by the military-linked government were expected to cease their duties now that the results had been made official. The Secretariat of the Senate indicated that the inaugural session of the new upper house would be scheduled shortly after its members report today.

The EC announced its collaboration with three agencies to further investigate alleged collusion to fix the election. Two weeks post-election, the poll body met yesterday morning amid speculation that it was ready to confirm the unofficial results.

Confirmation came at 2.30pm, with a list of names of the 200 senators and 100 substitutes being released. Senator-elect Kohdeeyoh Songngam, from Group 18 was disqualified due to her role as an adviser to the chairman of the Ang Thong provincial administrative organisation, a political post making her ineligible.

Major Korapot Runghirunwat, the first substitute in Group 18, has been named to fill the vacant seat.

No irregularities

During a subsequent news conference, EC Secretary-General Sawaeng Boonmee stated that the commission found the vote to comply with Section 42 of the organic law, leading to the certification of the results.

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Addressing criticism of the poll body’s handling of the election, he explained that complaints had been categorised into three types: manipulation or fraud, offences related to the election process on voting days, and candidates’ qualifications.

According to Sawaeng, 47 complaints regarding collusion to fix the result have been filed. The EC has gathered initial evidence and has enlisted the help of the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), and the Anti-Money Laundering Office to investigate these allegations.

“We’ve been working with high-ranking officers from these agencies for a week. The Office of the EC needs to use their tools to gather evidence.”

Eighteen complaints regarding election irregularities on voting days were submitted to the Supreme Court, which dismissed all of them. Three additional complaints were filed with the EC, which is gathering more evidence to ensure a fair process for both complainants and the accused.

Sawaeng also mentioned that the poll agency had screened candidates’ eligibility and qualifications before and during the contest to limit election irregularities. Out of 1,917 applications, more than 600 were disqualified for not meeting the qualification requirements.

Criminal charges

The EC plans to ask the Supreme Court to revoke the rights of some candidates who could face criminal charges for contesting the election despite knowing their ineligibility, reported Bangkok Post.

He clarified that the terms ‘profession’ or ‘occupation’ were incorrectly used when referring to the 20 groups in which candidates competed. The organic law on the Senate election and the constitution use a broader Thai term, to ensure diverse backgrounds and experiences among participants, said Sawaeng.

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“After all these steps, the EC agreed the Senate election process was fair, clean, and lawful and decided to endorse the election result.”

Politics NewsThailand News

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