Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha stated on Tuesday that a general election will take place in “early 2019 and no sooner” despite protests in Bangkok demanding a vote be held in November.
Protests against military rule have taken place intermittently in Bangkok since the start of the year with many growing increasingly frustrated with the governments frequent delaying of the general election. Elections were first tentatively set for 2015 but now have reached the latest date of February 2019. There are fears that this date could be pushed back again.
These protests persist despite the PM’s ban on political gatherings of five or more people. Protestors have been showing a three finger salute, adopted from the Hollywood movie “The Hunger Games”. The government has attempted to repress dissent with legal charges and tight monitoring of prominent activists. The military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said in a recent statement that it had filed charges against five protest leaders for holding an illegal gathering, according to Reuters.
Current Thai Prime Minister Prayuth began his reign following a military coup 2014 which ousted Yingluck Sinawatra, sister of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled the country in 2006. Thailand has endured sporadic violent protests for over a decade which provided the grounds for the 2014 coup, with the military claiming it was needed to end violence. Mr Prayuth claimed he was forced to take power to heal the country’s political divides and restart an economy stalled by continuous protests.