Court reinstates candidate

News

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the reinstatement of an election candidate for Khon Kaen’s Constitutency 5 on the grounds that the Election Commission failed to complete the disqualification process before banning the candidate.

The landmark ruling could lead to an avalanche of legal battles, as the EC allegedly committed a similar mistake with more than 500 aspiring candidates in last year’s local elections, legal pundits said.

New Aspiration Party candidate Siriwan Baonuwong petitioned the court to overturn the EC decision to ban her candidacy for the general election.

To justify the ban against Siriwan, the EC cited its March 2004 decision to suspend her voting right for one year after finding her guilty of campaign violations in the local poll in Khon Kaen’s Mancha Khiri district.

Under election law, Siriwan’s voting-right suspension results in her mandatory disqualification from running in the general election.

In its verdict, the court said at issue was whether the EC had properly followed the prescribed process in suspending Siriwan’s voting right.

Article 19, paragraph three of the Election Act stipulates that the EC must issue a formal decision on the suspension co-signed by all five of its members.

Upon examining the evidence, the court said it found that the EC had unanimously banned Siriwan from contesting the election, but had not signed the ruling before forwarding it to her.

This failure to strictly follow the letter of the law meant that the process to disqualify Siriwan was incomplete, it said.

“The EC initiated the disqualification process, but failed to complete it. Therefore, Siriwan’s right to run in the general election remains intact,” it said.

Reacting to the verdict, an insider source said the EC had neglected to fully comply with Article 19 when it removed some 500 candidates in local polls.

The source expressed concern that the EC’s negligence could be grounds for impeachment proceedings.

EC chairman Vasana Puemlarp will today convene an urgent meeting on how to comply with the court ruling as well as map out measures to rectify past EC decisions that might not have adhered strictly to the law.

Published on February 03, 2005

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