Earlier House dissolution is ‘lawful’

Earlier House dissolution is 'lawful'

PM won’t be in legal trouble: Wissanu

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to the House of Representatives on Feb 16. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to the House of Representatives on Feb 16. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

It is not against the law if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dissolves the House of Representatives shortly before March 23, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam insisted on Wednesday.

He was responding to questions about reports that Gen Prayut may call for a House dissolution on March 20, just three days before March 23 when the House’s four-year tenure expires.

Mr Wissanu said Gen Prayut may choose to dissolve the House on March 20, or even just a day before the House completes its term, adding the move would not get the prime minister into any legal trouble.

He said Gen Prayut is opting for House dissolution instead of letting the House run its course to smoothen things out for all concerned parties.

Politicians must be members of a party for at least 90 days prior to the election date if they wish to qualify to stand as MP candidates.

But, in the event the House is dissolved sooner, politicians would be required to join a party to qualify as poll candidates at least 30 days before the polls are held.

The Election Commission (EC) will announce the poll date within five days of the House dissolution being published in the Royal Gazette, Mr Wissanu said, adding the prime minister did not inform the cabinet if or when he would dissolve the House.

He also said the March 14 cabinet meeting will not be the last to be held. This is because the cabinet, even in its caretaking capacity, can continue to hold weekly meetings until a new government is sworn in. However, the caretaker cabinet may meet less often.

“The caretaker government may meet less. It can still convene a meeting to appoint state officials and members of state enterprise boards and some projects. It will need to consult the EC,” he said.

According to the deputy premier, the cabinet’s decision on Tuesday to double the monthly allowance given to village health volunteers to 2,000 baht is a form of national administration and it is not an attempt to woo voters, as some critics have alleged.

Sukhum Nuansakul, a political analyst and former rector of Ramkhamhaeng University, said he believes Gen Prayut will not dissolve the House before March 15.

“A caretaker government faces [regulatory] limitations and may not receive as much cooperation as they would like from state officials,” he said.

It is speculated that the general election, tentatively scheduled to take place on May 7 by the EC, may be postponed to May 14 out of concerns for a low turnout.

May 7 falls on a long weekend, and there are concerns that some voters may not return to their home provinces to cast their ballots and this could affect the election outcome.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayut is due to visit Chachoengsao tomorrow, his first provincial visit since he was discharged from Phramongkutklao Hospital where he had been treated for a swollen wrist. The premier is also scheduled to visit Ratchaburi on March 13.