Thais threaten protest on Jan 19 as government cancels February poll

Since coming to power in a May 2014 coup, the junta has postponed elections at least five times, including the latest one.
Since coming to power in a May 2014 coup, the junta has postponed elections at least five times, including the latest one.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (DPA) - Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather in Bangkok on Saturday (Jan 19) to demand general elections, after Thailand's military government postponed a poll scheduled for Feb 24.

Since coming to power in a May 2014 coup, the junta has postponed elections at least five times, including the latest one, citing the need to fulfil its reforms and ensure a smooth royal succession.

Prime Minister and junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed on Wednesday (Jan 16) that the election will not occur in February. The Election Commission said last week the new election date would likely be March 10.

"If an announcement on the March election is not made by tomorrow (Friday), we will be there on Saturday to demand it," protest leader Nuttha Mahattana told dpa on Thursday (Jan 17).

The election needs to be held by May 9, according to a law that lays out steps - and timelines - Thailand needs to take to return the country from military rule to democracy. Ms Nuttha said she fears that date will be missed if election plans are not finalised soon.

"Then we won't have anything at all, no more valid roadmap to democracy," she said.

Thai Army chief Apirat Kongsompong on Tuesday warned protesters not to "cross the line".

 

According to the junta, the latest postponement, which has sparked protests and a trending #DelayMyAss hashtag on social media, is necessary because the February date would have interfered with preparations for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn on May 4.