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General news >> Friday March 16, 2007
Charter to hand EC 'red card' powers to courts

MONGKOL BANGPRAPA

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has agreed that under the new constitution, the nation's top courts will be empowered to disqualify poll candidates found guilty of violating election laws. Charter drafters, who were deliberating the issue of courts and independent agencies yesterday, have come up with two possibilities.

Under the first proposal, Supreme Court judges will be empowered to decide cases involving candidates accused of electoral fraud in national elections and issue ''red cards'' to them.

The alternative suggestion would be to have a team of judges from both the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court to rule on such cases.

As for local elections, provincial courts will be responsible for issuing ''red cards'' to candidates found to have violated election laws.

The CDC has not decided on how long candidates convicted of electoral fraud would be barred from running in elections.

Under the abrogated 1997 constitution the power to disqualify violators belonged to the Election Commission (EC).

Drafters also supported a proposal that the public be given more access to the judicial process and the state provide more legal assistance for the poor.

Meanwhile, the CDC's sub-panel on political institutions, chaired by Jarun Pukditanakul, has reached an initial conclusion about a new structure for the Upper House.

Under the new design, the Senate would have 160 members. There would be one national selection committee and a provincial selection committee in each of the 75 provinces nationwide, not including Bangkok.

Of the 160 senators, 76 would be selected by national and provincial committees.

Each provincial committee would name a list of 10 candidates, which would be narrowed down to one by the national committee.

A senator for Bangkok would be selected directly by a national selection committee.

The EC would be responsible for selecting the remaining 84 senators from candidates who register with the election body.

As for the House of Representatives, the CDC's sub-panel proposed a proportional representation system, with 320 constituency MPs and 80 party-list MPs.

Details of the new system will be discussed at upcoming CDC meetings.


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