BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the election will take place no later than March and the Royal Decree will be issued within the month.
The clarification came on Thursday (Jan 10) after the prime minister met the coronation committee to discuss the organisation of the royal coronation ceremony.
Government House previously suggested that the post-coronation phase of the ceremony has made a Feb 24 poll day no longer appropriate.
Mr Wissanu said that the responsible committee will convene again on Jan 26, and he believed the election date could be announced before that.
"Let me just say that the election date will be announced this month and the election will be within March," he said. "The Election Commission (EC) will determine the exact date."
According to the law, the EC must announce the voting day within five days of the Royal Decree on the election being published in the Royal Gazette.
However, Mr Wissanu said the government was not in a position to say when the decree would be out. It had yet to be endorsed by the King, he said.
With mounting pressure and criticism, the deputy PM refused to say clearly that the election would not happen in February as previously promised.
"I don't know. I don't dare to say that," Mr Wissanu said. "But the media - you can draw your conclusions from what I told you."
As the election date has not been finalised and public statements have suggested the possibility now ranges from March 10 to 24, a debate has emerged over whether the election would be unconstitutional if the EC failed to announce the results within 150 days of the electoral laws coming into effect.
Mr Wissanu clarified on Thursday that the constitutional condition covered only the casting of ballots and not the announcement of results.
The results can be finalised 60 days after that and are independent of the constitutionally stated 150 days, according to the law, he confirmed.
He also announced that May 4 will, from next year, be known as Coronation Day or "Wan Chatramongkol".
The official coronation of His Majesty the King will take place on May 4 this year, he said.
Details about the ceremony and the celebration will be discussed again on Jan 26 when Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, a sister of the King, heads the meeting at Government House, he added.
Mr Wissanu said the ceremony would involve three major parts - the preparations starting from April, the ceremony from May 4 to 6, and the post-ceremony activities.