Thai coup leader sets polls for October 2015
Bangkok: The leader of Thailand`s military junta says a new interim constitution will be introduced next month and elections will be held around October 2015.
Army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a coup last month, announced today night that the temporary constitution will allow an interim legislature and Cabinet to begin governing the country in September. He said an appointed reform council and constitutional drafting committee will then work on a permanent charter to take effect July 2015.
Prayuth said a general election would be held three months after the adoption of the constitution. He made no mention of a public referendum on the new charter, as was held in 2007 after an earlier coup against an elected government.
The army seized power May 22 in a bloodless coup, overthrowing a government elected by a majority of voters three years ago.
Prayuth has said the coup was necessary to restore order after half a year of anti-government protests and political turmoil that left at least 28 people dead and the government paralyzed.
But since taking power, the army appears to be carrying on the fight of the anti-government protesters by mapping out a similar agenda to rewrite the constitution and institute political reforms before elections.
It has quashed most dissent, threatening or arresting critics of the coup.
Prayuth said the national reform council will consider political, economic, social, environmental, judicial and other matters and give its recommendations to the constitution drafting committee.
He said the ruling junta "wants to see an election that will take place under the new constitution ... That will be free and fair, so that it can become a solid foundation for a complete Thai democracy." It wants a political system that will bring development to the country, and not conflicts as in the past, he said.
Critics charge that the army plans to make the constitution less democratic by reducing the power of elected politicians and increasing the number of appointed legislators, with the goal of allowing the traditional, conservative royalist ruling elite to retain power.
Prayuth also spoke about international criticism of the coup, particularly from the European Union and the United States, which have cut back on aid and political cooperation and called for early elections.
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