Thailand’s former ruling party yesterday slammed the junta’s latest postponement of elections until 2019, accusing the generals of buying time to consolidate support ahead of a return to voting. The junta has delayed several poll dates since toppling the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014 and instituting a ban on all political activity. Late Thursday, the military government’s rubber-stamp parliament voted to change an election law and pave the way for polls to be pushed back from the junta’s previously-stated timetable of November 2018. Elections will likely be delayed for three months and fall some time in 2019, deputy prime minister General Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters yesterday, without giving a clear date.
The move was swiftly panned by the toppled Pheu Thai party, whose various incarnations have won every national election since 2001 but have been taken out by elite-backed coups and court rulings.
Chaturon Chaisang, a former minister and senior Pheu Thai leader, said the junta is trying to position itself for victory ahead of the poll. “They want time to prepare to make sure they can come back to power after an election,” he told AFP.
The military regime, which has yet to lift its ban on political activities, is trying to “weaken all existing parties”, Chaturon added, giving room for support to grow for an appointed prime minister or a military-backed party.