Protesters hold signs during a demonstration Sunday in Bangkok demanding the Election Commission be impeached.
Protesters hold signs during a demonstration Sunday in Bangkok demanding the Election Commission be impeached.

BANGKOK — The junta leader on Monday defended the Election Commission and said there should be “no more disorder” after campaigns were launched to impeach the commissioners over alleged election irregularities.

The comment from Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha came as several petitions were initiated by the public to impeach the commission over the past week, including those by student councils from a dozen universities nationwide. Public dissatisfaction has been running high after the body repeatedly delayed the release of preliminary polling results. Once revealed, the results were spotted with numerous discrepancies.

“They’ve already given explanations. It’s their job. Please listen to them,” Prayuth said. “People should understand the government’s procedures when they want to participate in something. Please be more understanding of the … system.”

“Please don’t cause more disorder,” he added.

The commission scrambled to explain after the media and the public pointed out several inconsistent numbers in its full but unofficial report of the poll results published Thursday – almost a week after the general election was held. The body said it will only certify the result on May 9, as candidates could be disqualified by then.

Students’ organizations from 12 universities, including Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Prince of Songkla, Khon Kaen and Naresuan, said they would set up booths today for people to sign their petitions.

The movement to impeach the commission quickly gained momentum after student activist Tanawat Wongchai of Chulalongkorn University announced the launch of a petition. Tanawat and democracy activist Sirawith Seritiwat also went to downtown Bangkok on Saturday to gather more signatures.

Transparency gadfly Srisuwan Janya launched his own petition to oust the commission on Sunday in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district. The same day, about 100 democracy activists led by Arnon Nampha and Nattaa Mahattana held a protest and signed a petition against the body near the Victory Monument.

A group of Thai people living in New Zealand staged a protest today against the commission in front of the Thai Embassy in Wellington, as their ballots were voided last week due to late delivery.

The commission has fallen further into hot water with the Pheu Thai Party calling for the commission to reveal details about how party-list MPs are computed. In Chonburi province, candidates from four parties, namely the Democrats, Pheu Thai, Future Forward and Bhumjaithai petitioned the commission’s provincial office about alleged election irregularities involving the counting of the votes.

Additional reporting Pravit Rojanaphruk