THAILAND will hold its general election on March 24 following the king’s royal decree in what would mark the first poll since the 2014 coup.
The long-delayed election is the first since the military ousted democratically elected Prime Miniter Yingluck Shinawatra and has since amended the constitution and stifled all forms political dissent, apart from appointing junta allies in the bureaucracy.
“March 24 will be the election day,” Election Commission head Ittiporn Boonpracong said, as quoted by the AFP.
The 66-year-old King Maha Vajiralongkorn, published the decree in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday, which was countersigned by junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“It’s a suitable time to hold an election of members of parliament,”
The military government earlier tipped polling date to be at the end of February but the king’s delayed signing of the decree could push the date back several weeks.
The kingdom’s history is fraught with coups, political crises and short-lived civilian governments.
With the announcement, the political campaigning season is expected to go into full swing amid a backdrop of political rallies often taken a turn for deadly violence.
Amid concerns over potential violence, the Prime Ministers office called for an “environment of orderliness, civility and unity”.
However, widespread upheavals were not expected in this election as the public has drawn fatigue from political violence.
In the run-up to the election, new political parties have sprouted up, including those loyal to the military and those aligned with the still influential Shinawatra clan.
The parties have begun holding meetings and going on a recruitment drive while a laundry list of potential prime ministers has cropped up.
Prayuth has also hinted at running for the prime minister’s office as a civilian in recent months.
However, the military leader is seen as unpopular among many voters over concerns he would still run the country as a dictatorship if elected into office.