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United States says Prayuth’s Planned Delay in Thai General Elections Unwise

Thai coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha is consolidating power but playing his cards close to his chest, giving few if any signs of a return to democratic rule

Thai coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha is consolidating power but playing his cards close to his chest, giving few if any signs of a return to democratic rule

 

BANGKOK – The United States Charge d’Affaires W. Patrick Murphy has called a delay of a general election to return Thailand to democracy to be held in February 2016 at the earliest, a deputy prime minister said after talks with a United States diplomat on Tuesday was “unwise and unjustified”.

The military government, established after a May 22 coup, said last month an election planned for late 2015 would be delayed until 2016, giving more time for reforms which the military says should bring stability after a decade of factional rivalry.

Chargé d'affaires, a.i. W. Patrick Murphy

Chargé d’affaires, a.i. W. Patrick Murphy

The military government, established after a May 22 coup, said last month an election planned for late 2015 would be delayed until 2016, giving more time for reforms which the military says should bring stability after a decade of factional rivalry.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Krue-ngam clarified the target date after talks with U.S. Charge d’Affaires W. Patrick Murphy.

“I told the U.S. charge d’affaires today elections will take place at the earliest in February 2016,” Wisanu told reporters.

“But if we have to have a referendum, polls could be delayed by a further three months,” he said, referring to a possible plebiscite on a new constitution.

A junta-appointed National Reform Council last week proposed stripping parliament of the power to appoint a prime minister and cabinet.

On Tuesday, a committee appointed to draft a new constitution rejected that recommendation.

A senior Western diplomat said he was not optimistic about the possibility of an election in 2016, fearing Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chef who launched the coup, could come up with a justification to delay.

“It is not inconceivable that Prayuth will stay in power for two to three years,” said the diplomat, who declined to be identified.

Questions over the return to democracy come at a time of extreme sensitivity surrounding the monarchy, in particular the issue of succession, which has formed part of the backdrop to the complex national crisis.

 

 

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Posted by on Dec 25 2014. Filed under Economy & Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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