Thai­land PM Needs a Lit­tle More Time in Of­fice to Pre­pare for Vote


BANGKOK (Dis­patches) - Thai Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tues­day said he needed a lit­tle more time in of­fice to pre­pare the coun­try for a gen­eral elec­tion, just days af­ter his deputy said a vote planned for this year could be de­layed.

Prayuth, in­stalled as prime min­is­ter in Au­gust 2014 af­ter lead­ing a coup that ousted a civil­ian gov­ern­ment, has de­layed the date of a gen­eral elec­tion sev­eral times. Most re­cently, he said an elec­tion would take place in Novem­ber.

But last week Thai­land’s par­lia­men­tary body voted to post­pone en­force­ment of a new elec­tion law by 90 days, drag­ging out the time­frame. At the time, the deputy prime min­is­ter said par­lia­ment’s de­ci­sion could de­lay the elec­tion un­til 2019.

“Please give me some time to lay the foun­da­tion for the coun­try, that’s all,” Prayuth told reporters af­ter a weekly cab­i­net meet­ing on Tues­day.

“The length of this time de­pends on the law,” he said, re­fer­ring to last week’s par­lia­men­tary de­ci­sion. He did not give fur­ther de­tails. Prayuth is un­der pres­sure at home and abroad to re­turn to civil­ian gov­er­nance.

On Satur­day, ac­tivists de­mand­ing an elec­tion this year gath­ered at a pedes­trian bridge in cen­tral Bangkok, in a rare show of dis­sent.

Gov­ern­ment crit­ics say the junta is de­lib­er­ately de­lay­ing the vote in or­der to tighten its grip on power by en­sur­ing that its al­lies win the vote.

Some crit­ics say Prayuth would like to stay in power af­ter a gen­eral elec­tion. Thai­land’s new con­sti­tu­tion, which took ef­fect last year, al­lows for an ap­pointed prime min­is­ter.

Oth­ers have warned the junta needs to re­turn Thai­land to civil­ian rule within its promised time­frame, or risk fan­ning flames of dis­con­tent. Prayuth ad­dressed ques­tions about wan­ing pub­lic sup­port. “This is nor­mal. Any gov­ern­ment in their third year all en­counter this,” he said on Tues­day.

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