Thailand to hold general election in 2017 even if draft Constitution doesn't pass referendum: PM

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Thailand will hold a general election in 2017 even if a draft Constitution does not pass a referendum this year.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Thailand will hold a general election in 2017 even if a draft Constitution does not pass a referendum this year. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand will hold a general election in 2017 even if a draft Constitution does not pass a referendum this year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday (Jan 26), amid criticism that a draft Constitution unveiled last week would delay the poll.

A draft Constitution released last Friday has been pilloried by all major political parties, raising fears it will be rejected in a July referendum, delaying a return to democracy.

"The year 2017, 2017, 2017," a visibly irritated General Prayut told reporters in response to a question about when an election will be held.

Last week, Gen Prayut said Thailand will hold an election in 2017 even if the draft Constitution does not pass the referendum.

"No matter whether the draft Constitution passes the referendum or not, the government will hold the election in 2017 according to our roadmap," Gen Prayut had told reporters.

A May 2014 coup ended months of political protests in Bangkok and the military tore up the previous Constitution.

The junta had said that a draft Constitution needed to be in place before an election could take place and that getting the charter approved in a referendum was a key part of the junta's "road map to democracy".