THAILAND’S Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha recently announced the junta will relax some restrictions on political parties ahead of the country’s elections set for early next year, but the government will still not allow campaigning.
According to the Associated Press, Prayuth said once the restrictions have been lifted, political parties can hold meetings, amend their regulations, and appoint managers and register new members ahead of the polls expected to be held in February.
However, Prayuth did not mention when the restrictions would be eased but said it is expected to be made “soon” with an executive order.
“I haven’t decided anything yet today because there are still many months ahead,” Prayuth was quoted as saying.
After seizing power in May 2014, the military government banned political gatherings of five or more people, effectively immobilising political parties from carrying out basic activities and stifling dissent.
While the election is widely tipped to take place in February 2019, the government has deferred elections on more than a few occasions.
By the nation’s law, the election must be held before May 2019.
With special legislative powers accorded under Article 44, Prayuth was allowed to implement any law or regulation he saw fit to maintain peace and stability.
Prayuth’s junta government, previously known as the National Council of Peace and Order, has promised to lift its ban on political activities before the elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Tuesday said the order to partially allow political parties to carry out basic functions would be issued within days but campaigning and gatherings would be allowed at a later time.
Earlier this month, Prayuth, who led the military coup to oust former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, said he has yet to decide whether to stay on as prime minister.
“I have to look at the law and the Constitution. I have to consider what I should stay on for,” he said.
There has been wide speculation that MPs from the Pheu Thai party, once led by Yingluck, were being asked to defect to the Palang Pracharat party. The latter party could serve as a vehicle for the extension of Prayuth’s tenure in office.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said there is no legal restriction on Prayuth to become the leader of a party while continuing to serve as caretaker prime minister, according to Khaosod English.