BANGKOK – Foreign Governments and the Thai People expecting a general election in 2015 are going to have to wait a little bit longer, according to Thailand’s Finance Minister Mr. Sommai Phasee in a BBC interview said elections in the junta-ruled kingdom could be delayed until mid-2016, days after military officials ruled out lifting martial law any time soon.
Prime Minister Gen.Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a military coup in May, had previously hinted at a delay to polls promised for late 2015.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Ret. Gen.Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also defense minister, also said elections might take place in 2016, citing groups opposed to the junta, or National Council for Peace and Order, as it is formally known, as one reason for the delay.
“We will be able to organize elections around the start of 2016 once the constitution is drafted,” Prawit told reporters.
“Right now there are elements opposed to the National Council for Peace and Order.”
Prime Minister Gen.Prayuth Chan-ocha has outlined a year of reforms that are partly aimed at ending the political influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The army has said the May coup was necessary to avoid further bloodshed after months of sometimes violent protests that helped oust Thaksin’s sister, former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The military scrapped the constitution shortly after it took power and has appointed a committee to draft a new one.
Last week, the government said martial law, which the army imposed days before it took power, will not be lifted for the foreseeable future, despite an earlier pledge to lift the law in some provinces to help the tourism sector which has struggled since the coup.
Thailand has been broadly split between the Royalist Elite and the rural working class who brought the Shinawatra family to power in every election since the 2006 Coup.
Prawit has appealed to Foreign Powers and the Thai Media for understanding over the delayed polls.
“We are not asking for much. Just a year to resolve past problems.”
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said this week that Thailand had “fallen into an apparently bottomless pit”.
“Six months after the coup, criticism is systematically prosecuted, political activity is banned, media is censored, and dissidents are tried in military courts,” it said.