“After March 24 we must have elections for local municipalities (tessabaan) and tambon administration organisations (OrBortor),” said Nutthawat Wongitsaraphap, Director of the Phuket office of the Election Commission (PEC).
“All of them have already exceeded the maximum four years per term allowed under the Election Act,” he added.
The situation has arisen from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) “freezing” all local administrations since May 2014, with no local elections to be held until further notice, Mr Nutthawat explained.
That will change after the national election on March 24, he said.
“We have been waiting for a new order instructing us to prepare to hold the local elections, but there has been a delay while the Election Act has been revised,” he said.
“There is no deadline for when local elections are to be held by, but we hope for them to be held by May or June, possibly later – but we are looking to hold them as soon as we practically can after national election,” he said.
A draft bill making changes to the terms of office that local administrations – and their Chiefs or Mayors – are elected by was passed by the Senate on Jan 29, Mr Nutthawat confirmed.
“But we cannot make any preparations until the bills have been approved by His Majesty,” Mr Nutthawat stressed.
“There have been some important changes,” Mr Nutthawat noted.
Among them, successful candidates cannot hold the office of Mayor or OrBorTor Chief for more than two consecutive terms, he said.
Previously, successfully candidates could be re-elected to office indefinitely.
Also, each village used to have two representatives on the local OrBorTor council. They now have only one.
Further, mayors or OrBorTor chiefs previously had to be at least 30 years old. Now they must be at least 35 years old.
The conditions for the PEC organising local elections has also changed, Mr Nutthawat explained.
Previously, the PEC had to organise and coordinate local elections themselves, now they can hand over the operational aspects of holding local elections to a committee or third party.
Meanwhile, each local election will by law invoke a ban on the sale of alcohol from midnight to midnight on each election day, as required by the Election Act, Mr Nutthawat confirmed.