Thailand junta affirms Feb 24 polling date, denies delay rumours
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Thailand junta affirms Feb 24 polling date, denies delay rumours

THAILAND’S military government on Wednesday assured no more delays for the widely anticipated election scheduled for Feb 24 next year, following rumours that it would be postponed for another two months.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the junta government has set Feb 24 as the polling day, adding reports that stated otherwise carried no substance, the Bangkok Post reported.

“The majority of members of the public want an election. So, let those who think the election will be postponed do whatever they like. But (as for me), there is no reason to have the election deferred,” he was quoted as saying.

SEE ALSO: Thailand’s army chief Prayuth confirms ‘interest’ in politics – report 

On the likeliness of a postponement in the event of political turmoil, Prawit said he did not expect any major problems to arise apart from minor political conflicts.

Prawit’s assurance came in wake of a postponement that surfaced early this week when Ida Tawornseth, chief advisor to the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (USS), raised doubts of the February polling date.

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.

The government, known as the National Council of Peace and Order, has promised to lift its ban on political activities before the elections.

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Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives for a meeting with Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in Bangkok, Thailand, April 19, 2018 during the latter’s visit to the country to announce the group’s investment in the Thai government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. Source: Reuters/Jorge Silva

Ida pointed out that four Cabinet members, all from the military, are still holding on to their posts after joining civilian political parties to contest in the election.

“The ministers said they still had unfinished work to get done. Does this actually mean the National Council for Peace and Order still won’t allow the election?” she asked.

Last month, the country’s monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, has approved the final two bills needed for the Southeast Asian country to hold its general election by May next year.

SEE ALSO: Thailand worsened under Junta rule, says ex-premier Thaksin

While the election is widely tipped to take place in February 2019, the government has deferred elections on more than a few occasions.

Thailand’s Prime Minister and army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha recently said he was interested in pursuing a political career as a civilian, sparking concern among the kingdom’s pro-democracy activists.

His remarks came amid wide speculation of his apparent ambition to stay in office as prime minister after the military relinquishes its five-year rule over the country, making way for a democratically-elected government.