Thailand sets Feb 24 election date as govt lifts political campaigning ban

Thailand sets Feb 24 election date as govt lifts political campaigning ban

FILE PHOTO: The skyline of central Bangkok and the Chao Phraya river are seen during sunrise in Ban
The skyline of central Bangkok and the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. (Photo: Reuters)

BANGKOK: Thailand will hold a much-delayed general election on Feb 24, 2019, the Election Commission said on Tuesday (Dec 11).

A military-imposed ban on political activities that has been in place since 2014 has also been lifted, a government statement published on the Royal Gazette website said on Tuesday, clearing the way for the election.

The military government had imposed the strict ban when it took power in a 2014 coup, citing the need for law and order after months of street protests against the democratically elected government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

It began easing the ban in September, when it allowed political parties to resume organising. Campaigning for the election is likely to begin in January. 

"The people and political parties will be able to take part in political activities during this period leading up to the election in accordance with the constitution," the military government said in the statement.

"The Election Commission has set Feb 24, 2019, as election day," Deputy Election Commision Secretary-General Nat Laosisawakul told reporters.

READ: Thai government says no need for foreign observers at next year's election

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The election, which many hope will restore democracy in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy, will likely pit the populist political movement backed by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and supported by many in rural areas against the military and royalist establishment.

The Bangkok-based establishment seized power in successive coups in 2006 and 2014 and now has its own proxy political parties.

Source: Reuters/ic

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