Thai election commission proposes date for new polls

Thailand 's embattled Election Commission proposed on Monday that new polls be held in October, and one of its members reportedly offered to resign, in steps aimed at ending the country's political crisis. With no functioning Parliament and only a caretaker government following the annulment of snap April 2 elections, Thailand 's three top courts were to meet Tuesday to discuss what they should do next.

Top judges from the Supreme, Administrative and Constitutional courts have already held two unprecedented joint meetings to seek an end to the stalemate. Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court declared the April 2 elections void because they did not meet constitutional requirements and ordered fresh polls. The April elections were called by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in an attempt to win a new mandate and silence months of street protests calling for his ouster for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

The country's three main opposition parties boycotted the polls, which were won by Thaksin's ruling Thai Rak Thai party. But some seats could not be filled because of the boycott, preventing the convening of Parliament. The main opposition Democrat Party and other Thaksin foes have accused the Election Commission of being a pawn of the ruling party, and refused to attend a meeting of the commission on Monday to set a new election date.

The Oct. 22 date proposed by the commission for new polls has not yet been finalized and must be approved by the Cabinet, Election Commission chief Ekachai Warunprapha said. But he said the date is likely be approved because a Cabinet representative attended the meeting and did not oppose the proposal. The October date was chosen so the election campaign would not interfere with celebrations next month of the 60th anniversary of beloved Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej's ascension to the throne, Ekachai said.

After its meeting, the Election Commission reported that one of its four commissioners, Charupat Ruangsuwan, would resign, Senate Chairman Suchon Chaleekreua said. However, as of late Monday he still had not yet received the letter of resignation, Suchon said. Thai courts and opposition parties have been calling on the commissioners to quit since the April 2 elections were annulled.

Thaksin took a leave of office shortly after last month's balloting, saying he felt compelled to take a "break" from politics to restore national unity. His opponents have accused him of plotting a comeback a move they say would revive anti-Thaksin anger, reports the AP.

N.U.