Thai election won't happen this year, legislator says

By Reuters/Cod Satrusayang   January 2, 2017 | 05:45 pm PT
Thai election won't happen this year, legislator says
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during an announcement the junta's two year accomplishments at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, September 15, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
But a spokesman for the government said it remained on track for an election this year.

Thailand will need to delay a planned general election until 2018 to allow time to pass the necessary laws, a member of the military government's national assembly said on Monday.

But a spokesman for the government said it remained on track for an election this year as set out in its roadmap to restore civilian rule.

The junta toppled an elected government in 2014 in a bid to enforce calm in a country divided by more than a decade of conflict between a military-backed royalist establishment and populist political forces.

Somjet Boonthanom, a member of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA), told Reuters that elections would likely be delayed until March or April 2018.

"This is not a postponement but because of the intricacies involved in drafting election laws, elections will not happen this year," he said.

Until now, the junta has said it is sticking to plans for an election in late 2017.

"As far as the government is concerned, we are on track with the roadmap. The NLA's opinions are their own," said Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for the prime minister's office.

Thailand's army has carried out 12 successful coups since 1932.


Ousted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gestures as she arrives at the Supreme Court for a trial on criminal negligence looking into her role in a debt-ridden rice subsidy scheme during her administration, in Bangkok, Thailand November 4, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

The next step in the transition back to civilian rule is for new King Maha Vajiralongkorn to endorse a constitution which was approved in a referendum last year.

Critics argue that provisions in the constitution will entrench the hold of the military even after elections.

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