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Thailand to hold election early next year: PM

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    The Nation/ANN

Bangkok | Fri, January 6, 2017 | 10:51 am
Thailand to hold election early next year: PM Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha leaves after casting his vote in a referendum on a new constitution at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said that the current political road map would have to be followed to pave the way for the next general election to be held early next year, as per information posted on the government website.

The PM made the remarks to Canadian Ambassador Donica Pottie when she called on him at Government House Thursday, Deputy Government Spokesman Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukondhapatipak said.

This is the first time the prime minister has hinted that the elections were not likely to be held this year as set out in the road map.

In the discussion with the Canadian ambassador, the premier spoke about the country’s political situation and stressed on the implementation of the road map and national reforms, the spokesman said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thursday that he was not worried about the next general election being delayed until next year, as long as the political “road map” remained intact.

He said the next national vote would be held in 2018 if the timeframe allowed for the drafting of its organic laws – 240 days – and the preparations for the voting – 150 days – were fully utilized.

The count for the timeframes start after the new constitution is promulgated, which is expected early next month. The draft charter was submitted for royal endorsement in early November and His Majesty the King has 90 days to decide whether to endorse it.

The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) is drafting the four organic laws required under the new constitution for holding the next election – ones on political parties, the Election Commission, the election of MPs, and the appointment of senators. The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will have 60 days to complete deliberations on those draft laws.

“Don’t be overly worried. You should get worried when they say the road map is no longer valid. I understand that the prime minister remains firm on the current road map,” Abhisit said.

He said the new law on political parties was expected to be completed first to allow political parties to prepare for the next election. “I think the drafters know the process well. We should not be worried too much,” the Democrat leader said.

Abhisit, a former prime minister, said as far as he knew the people responsible for holding the election were planning a smooth poll. “After the four organic laws are completed, it would be time to start counting down to the election,” he added.

Meanwhile, NLA members said they were convinced the next election would be held this year, as had been originally planned under the road map set by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

General Noppadon Inthapanya, who is also an NLA whip, said he believed that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha would exercise his power as the NCPO chief to make sure that the next election could be held this year.

He said the NLA members would have to work overtime to ensure deliberations on the organic laws were completed within the timeframe under the road map.

Wanlop Tangkhananurak, another NLA member, said he was sure the next election would not be delayed.

He said he did not think the CDC would need the maximum timeframe of eight months to complete the four organic laws. “At most, they could complete the work in six months. There are no reasons for a delay,” he said.

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