Thai royal decree confirms general election in 2019

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Thailand's Election Commission holds a meeting at Election Commission office in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 23, 2019. Xinhua

BANGKOK (Xinhua) – A royal decree for Thailand’s general election was issued yesterday, to be followed by the announcement of the election date within the next five days.

Given an approval from King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the royal decree has been promulgated in the Royal Gazette, obliging the Election Commission to officially announce the date for the long-awaited election within five days, according to the constitution’s organic law, pertaining to the election.

The election date is largely expected on Mar 24, marking a one-month delay from an earlier schedule for Feb 24 well before the coronation of Thailand’s king in early May.

Under the 2017 constitution, the election of MP’s is bound to be held within 150 days after the date on which the organic laws, pertaining to the election, was promulgated.

The last organic law pertaining to the election, one that governs the election of members of parliament, was promulgated on Dec 11.

The polls will be the first since the military government toppled the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra in a May 2014 coup, rewriting the constitution, muzzling dissent and appointing key military allies across the bureaucracy.

The decree means election campaigning can officially start, although an array of new parties – including some aligned to the military, others to the still powerful Shinawatra clan – have already begun meetings and recruitment.

Analysts say the military is positioning itself for a return to government through its proxy party, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha angling for a role as civilian leader after the election.

The army-linked Phalang Pracharat party led by members of the military government held a recruiting drive in the traditional rural base of Ms Yingluck and her brother Mr Thaksin, who was toppled by an earlier coup in 2006.

Mr Thaksin has launched a weekly podcast sharing his views on Thai society and economy, while Ms Yingluck has embarked on several rounds of photo ops.

Analysts say they do not expect any street protests that defined Thailand’s politics since the fall of Mr Thaksin.

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