Pro-democracy demonstrations resume in Thailand as Junta admits to election delays

Pro-democracy demonstrations resume in Thailand as Junta admits to election delays

Pro-democracy protesters in Thailand are expected to hold a second day of demonstrations in Bangkok today. The unrest comes days

Photo: Reuters

Pro-democracy protesters in Thailand are expected to hold a second day of demonstrations in Bangkok today. The unrest comes days after the military junta announced that the previously promised February 24 election may be postponed again—the sixth postponement of elections since the military took power in 2014.

The government has signalled this delay under the pretence of the King’s coronation, scheduled to begin on May 4. Under the constitution, elections must be held by May 9. Confirmation of the date will only come with the issuance of a royal decree, which will then allow the Kingdom’s Electoral Commission to officially confirm a date.

Expect pressure to slowly build on the regime over the next month because, unlike previous postponements, the government’s preparations are at an advanced stage. This includes the lifting of restrictions on political activity in December and the constitutional strict procedural formalities that kick-in post-election. The continual delays will only feed speculation that the Junta is giving pro-regime parties time to organise.

However, even if elections go ahead, a 2017 constitutional change means that the military will maintain substantial control through an appointed prime minister appointed by the upper house, which will be made up of military and other appointees.

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