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Announcement by Thai PM casts doubt on poll date

PHOTO: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn

“Today, the NCPO gives importance to the preparation of the coronation. Every Thai must not forget. This is important.” – PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha

The Thai PM yesterday broke with tradition by mixing politics with the forthcoming coronation saying the government would need to prepare for the important royal ceremony before calling the long-awaited election.

While the election date has been pushed forward a number of times over the years, next February had firmed in the past 12 months as the most likely date. But the date for His Majesty’s coronation has not been announced.

The Nation reports that Prayut’s surprising remarks came amid growing pressure on the ruling NCPO to call an election after several delays caused by legislative complications. After yesterday’s Cabinet meeting Prayut brought up the coronation out of the blue.

“Everyone must not forget about the most important thing. Today, the NCPO gives importance to the preparation of the coronation. Every Thai must not forget. This is important,” he said.

“Don’t say I’m making an excuse. For this, I need the country to be peaceful and stable. It also impacts investments, too. The election will also go on according to democracy. I don’t think these go in contrast.”

His unprompted comments led reporters to ask if the election would be held before or after the coronation. He responded that the election would definitely take place after the coronation.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne on December 2016, but the date of his coronation has not yet been announced.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says that the determination of the coronation day depended solely on royal judgement.

“I cannot talk about this [the coronation] since the Cabinet did not discuss the matter [yesterday]. I heard the prime minister talked about it. He might know, but I don’t know,” Wissanu told reporters.

The election has been anticipated since soon after the coup took place in 2014. Prayut initially said the election would take place the following year but the schedule has shifted thanks to a lengthy process of legislation and the re-working of the Constitution.

Human rights defenders and activists urged British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron – who Prayut is scheduled to meet today and next Monday respectively – to pressure the PM for a rapid transition to a civilian government.

The road map to democracy, according to the Constitution, says that the election must take place 150 days after the organic laws crucial for the vote come into effect. However, the bills have suffered several legislative hiccups such as committee revisions and a constitutional review. Consequently, the election has been delayed indefinitely.

The powers-that-be have reiterated that voting would be held in February next year. But critics have questioned that promise, given the current situation in which a ban on politics remains strictly in place and the organic bills on the Senate and MPs election are still pending royal endorsement.

The junta indicated it was preparing for the election as Prayut assigned his deputy Prawit Wongsuwan to call a meeting with political parties to clear the way for the poll. Wissanu said the meeting would take place soon.

Announcement by Thai PM casts doubt on poll date | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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