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Bangkok Post – The election commission warns against interference in the Senate poll

Electoral Commission Secretary General Sawaeng Boonmee at an event to provide a better insight into last April's general elections.  (File photo)

Electoral Commission Secretary General Sawaeng Boonmee at an event to provide a better insight into last April’s general elections. (File photo)

Individuals found guilty of manipulating the election process for senators could be banned from participating in politics for life, the Electoral Commission (EC) warned on Sunday.

European Commission Secretary General Sawaeng Boonmee warned in a Facebook post, outlining the rules for Senate elections.

The warning came after Senator Somchai Sawangkarn urged the EC to take action against any attempt to interfere in the upcoming selection of new senators.

Somchai’s call followed a call from Progressive Movement chairman and former leader of the now defunct Future Forward Party (FFP), Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit, for his supporters to stand as candidates.

The Progressive Movement launched a website called “senate67.com” where potential candidates could introduce themselves to the public. Access to the site is limited, with the group citing “unclear EC regulations”.

Somchai said the movement’s attempt could be an attempt to disrupt the vote to elect 200 new senators to replace those appointed by the junta whose terms expire on May 10.

The EC Secretary General said that a senator, who would be chosen from 20 professional groups, must be politically neutral, and that the selection process will be different from the election to the House of Representatives.

Only people who have registered as candidates can vote in the Senate poll, he said.

Candidates are only allowed to introduce themselves and are not allowed to launch political campaigns, Mr. Sawaeng said.

Mr Sawaeng also warned of punishment for rule violations, such as asking for favors in exchange for votes. Also prohibited are election manipulation, buying votes, hiring others to register as candidates and registering as a candidate with forged documents.

Mr Sawaeng also warned against encouraging people to register as candidates through certain groups or associations, saying such actions could lead to unlawful exchanges. “People should register as Senate candidates of their own volition so they can remain independent,” he added.