Thai military junta to cancel general elections; 5th delay since 2014 coup
The Thai military junta on Monday signalled that the long-postponed general elections will be delayed yet again, the fifth delay in less than five years. The development comes after hundreds of people took to the streets on Sunday, in one of the biggest pro-democracy protests in Thailand in over four years, to criticise the military government for appearing to renege on assurances the election would finally happen on February 24, reports the Guardian.
It is the fifth time that the military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which took over in a bloodless coup in 2014, has delayed elections and prevented the country's return to democracy. The NCPO has repeatedly declared that the country was "not ready" for elections but the most recent delay has been attributed to concerns that it would interfere with the upcoming coronation of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, which will be held on May 4-6.
The army's commander in chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, publicly condemned the protesters, saying they were "bent on causing trouble". "They are being told to think this way, ordered to behave this way, thinking in one single mode without taking into consideration other factors which are reasonable and without looking at the constitution," Aparit, who is also secretary general of the NCPO, told a media conference on Monday.
The election commission has not yet formally announced the postponement. Thailand's last official election was in 2011 and occurred following months of pro-democracy protests by activists known as the "red shirts", and saw the election of Yingluck Shinawatra, the country's first female Prime Minister, the Guardian reported.
Another poll was held again in 2014, but it was later invalidated by the constitutional court, and the military took power in a coup shortly after. According to Thailand's new constitution, an election must take place by May 9.
(With inputs from agencies.)