Thai PM Prayut says preparations under way to dissolve Parliament ahead of election

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha's government is heading into the last week of its four-year term. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday that he had prepared a decree seeking to dissolve Parliament ahead of an election, an expected step as his government heads into the last week of its four-year term.

The decree would require the approval of Thailand’s monarch and would take effect once published in the Royal Gazette. An election must take place within 60 days after dissolution.

“I have prepared (the decree), we have to wait. We have to wait for the announcement in the Royal Gazette,” Mr Prayut told reporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Asked when this would be, he said: “We have to wait, wait for the announcement.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said earlier on Tuesday that the House of Representatives will be dissolved on March 20.

The election will again pit the billionaire Shinawatra family against parties backed by the military and old money conservatives, in what has been a bitter 18-year power struggle in South-east Asia’s second-biggest economy.

Mr Prayut, a retired general who has been in charge since leading a coup against the government of Ms Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, will run under the new United Thai Nation party.

He will be up against Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Ms Yingluck’s niece.

Ms Paetongtarn, 36, has led Mr Prayut in opinion polls for months on the top choice for Thailand’s next prime minister.

“This election will be a battle of ideology that will determine whether Thailand will stay on the side of conservatism or sway more to the liberal side,” Dr Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political scientist at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University told Bloomberg. “But the military is so deeply rooted in Thai politics that it would take a super landslide for the opposition to bring about military reform, which is unlikely to happen.” REUTERS

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