BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Elections for parliamentarians are expected to be held in October 2015 and a democratically elected government will be in place late next year, Thailand's junta leader has said.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said a provisional charter would be promulgated next month and a new Constitution could be announced by August next year.
When the new Constitution is in place, the NCPO's interim government will spend about three months preparing for the election of new parliamentarians, according to General Prayuth, who is also Army commander-in-chief.
"The elections to be held under the new Constitution will be fair and just in order to bring about a constructive and complete democracy," he said during his weekly TV address on Friday night.
"You will get a democratically elected government by 2015. Please take it easy. We need some time for reforms. Things should be done by next year."
He said a national legislative assembly would be set up about a month after the interim charter is in place and a new interim government could start functioning in September.
The interim charter would require reforms in all areas, such as politics, the economy, society, the environment, energy and the justice system, he said.
A national reform council set up via the interim charter would implement reforms in all areas and suggest to a Constitution drafting committee how the new Constitution should be written to achieve reform, he added.
It was reported earlier that the NCPO's power would remain the same even after an interim government is installed. The interim charter will include Article 17, which will give the NCPO greater powers than the government, the Isra News Agency reported.
Once the interim government is set up, the NCPO will still have the power to issue orders, make public announcements and carry out any other activities it deems necessary to maintain national security.
High-ranking military officials will make up half of the 200-member National Legislative Assembly, which will be wholly appointed by the NCPO.
So far, four legal specialists have turned down an invitation from the NCPO to lead the charter-writing panel. They are Council of State chief Meechai Ruchuphan, NCPO adviser Wissanu Krea-Ngam, King Prajadhi-pok's Institute secretary-general Dr Borwornsak Uwanno and Thammasat University rector Somkid Lertpaitoon.
The junta chief also warned that holding any politically motivated fundraising events is against martial law and organisers would face legal action for violating NCPO orders.
General Prayuth said he did not believe it was appropriate to be holding political fundraising events at present. If one political group holds such an event, then its rival group could also do the same, he said.
"I ask you not to do it again. If you want to talk, do it quietly at home," the general said. "You can't hold a political gathering in a public place. It's against martial law. If you do it again, everybody involved will be summoned to face legal action for violating an NCPO order."
Martial law prohibits a political gathering of five people or more.
He dismissed as groundless a claim that he worked with a "group of people who opposed the previous government."
"I didn't plot anything with anyone."
He did not identify anybody, but it is believed he was referring to Suthep Thaugsuban's comments about how he had been advising Prayuth on rooting out the Thaksin regime since 2010.