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Pro Election Group Steps up Pressure for Fixed Election Date Published in the Royal Gazette

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BANGKOK – With the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) government failing to fix the date for the election and pushing for it to be delayed by a month, pro-election groups are rallying for a show of strength both in and out of Bangkok to put pressure on Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha’s ruling junta.

If a Royal Decree on the election is not published in the Royal Gazette by Friday, the group will hold its fourth pro-election protest at Democracy Monument on Rajdamnoen Avenue this Saturday.

Protests were seen in different provinces in the past week after the government was unable to clarify the election delay, saying it would overlap the royal coronation ceremony in May.

A demonstrator at a protest rally at Ratchaprasong shopping district in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday. Photo: EPA

These demonstrations were in addition to the protests around the Ratchaprasong intersection on Sunday that saw at least 500 protesters joining the movement.

Although the ban on political activity was lifted late last year, police are keeping a close watch on the protesters. Protest leaders were finally charged with using an amplifier in a public place without permission.

Singer and songwriter Su Boonlieng yesterday debuted a pop song “Knock Knock Knock”, adapted from a popular song “Pratu Chai” [The Door to the Heart] from the 1980s.

“Knock Knock Knock” calls for the return of democracy, that has been on hold since the 2014 coup.

“I wrote this song because I want younger people to see politics as something colourful. So, I presented this song through younger singers and dancers,” Su wrote on Facebook. “I want them to see that elections should be a routine, that we should do routinely.”

Following mounting pressure, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday: “I’ve always said that the election will follow some conditions.”

The pro-poll group has set Friday as the deadline for the government to clarify its stance on the election but Prayut asked if the group had the authority to impose a deadline for the government.

“I don’t understand this. Everything still follows the same time frame,” Prayut said after the mobile Cabinet meeting in Lampang province. “The election must take place in 150 days and that is May 9.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha reiterated on Tuesday that a general election will take place in “early 2019 and no sooner” as hundreds of protesters marched in Bangkok to demand that a vote be held.

Prayut was referring to the time frame set by the Constitution, which states that the poll must be conducted within 150 days of the election organic laws coming into effect.

He said he did not want to talk about it because it was the responsibility of the Election Commission (EC). In determining the election date, the EC had to take into account not only the opinions of involved parties but also the preparations for the coronation ceremony, he added.

The monarchy is the main pillar of the nation, the PM stressed, adding that everyone had to lend a helping hand.

Meanwhile, Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong yesterday said he had no concerns over threats of stepped-up demonstrations, saying the protesters had the right and freedom to do so. His only worry was about trade and tourism being affected by the protests.

However, in response to the deadline set by the pro-poll group, Apirat said they should also draw a line for themselves and try not to cross it.

“Do not cross the line,” he said. “Political groups can do their job. The security forces will also do their job. This is how the system works.”

Source: The Nation