Thai activists protest as election faces delay

Activists protesting in Bangkok yesterday against a possible delay of an election set to be held on Feb 24, following the lifting of a ban on political activity imposed after a 2014 coup.
Activists protesting in Bangkok yesterday against a possible delay of an election set to be held on Feb 24, following the lifting of a ban on political activity imposed after a 2014 coup.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Dozens of Thai activists yesterday protested against a possible delay of a national election set for next month, the first such gathering since the military government lifted a ban on political activity imposed after a 2014 coup.

The junta has promised and postponed the election several times since it came to power, with the latest date set for Feb 24.

However, the vote faces yet another postponement after Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam suggested last Friday that post-election events might clash with rituals related to King Maha Vajiralongkorn's coronation from May 4 to May 6.

That prompted the first protest since the junta lifted a ban on political activities and a gathering of more than five people last month.

"We want the government to hold an election as soon as possible so that democracy can move forward in our country,"said Mr Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and anti-junta activist who organised the protest at the Victory Monument area in central Bangkok.

Protesters carried signs which read "We Want Election" and "Election only on Feb 24, 2019", chanting "No delay!" in unison.

Thailand's Election Commission has not officially announced the postponement, but said it has acknowledged the government's suggestion that the vote be pushed back.

 

The military government also failed to issue an official decree by Friday to commit to holding a general election, meaning it is less likely to be held on Feb 24 under the current timeline laid out.

The election is meant to restore democracy after a 2014 military coup ousted elected prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, though changes to the Constitution in the interim ensure the military will retain a great deal of control.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Thai activists protest as election faces delay'. Print Edition | Subscribe