BANGKOK, Thailand will hold a general election on March 24, authorities said, the first national poll since a 2014 coup knocked out the civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
The military has since rewritten the constitution, muzzled dissent and appointed military allies across the bureaucracy in a bid to scratch the Shinawatra clan from the Thai political scene and embed its own influence in the country’s future.
“March 24 will be the election day,” an Election Commission official told reporters, hours after the publication of a decree signed by King Maha Vajiralongkorn empowered the EC to give a date.
The military government has pushed back the election several times for various reasons after overthrowing Yingluck’s government in 2014, citing the need for peace and order after months of street protests.
In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said it would be inappropriate for election events to “unnecessarily coincide or overlap with the scheduling of the Coronation Ceremony or other annual Royal Ceremonies”.
It also said the new date would not be “too late to the extent that such a delay will have detrimental effects on the country and the Thai people”.
Under the law, the Election Commission has to endorse winning members of parliament within 60 days of a vote, and parliament must convene within 15 days of the results and the King will preside over the opening of parliament.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, has been on the throne since shortly after his father died in 2016 following a 70-year reign, but he has not been officially crowned during a lengthy mourning period.
Thailand’s two largest political parties previously said they had no objections to the election being rescheduled for the coronation.
Thailand’s history is pockmarked by coups, short-lived civilian governments and political crises.
An array of new parties – including some aligned to the military, others to the still powerful Shinawatra clan – have already begun meetings and recruitment as a blizzard of names are tossed up as likely future prime ministers.
Thailand last held a successful election in 2011. — NNN-AGENCIES
Source: NAM News Network