BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Monday his interim government agrees the next general election should be held on December 23. If carried out, it will be the first vote since last year’s coup toppled the government.
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont in Bangkok Monday
Surayud, appointed interim prime minister after the September coup forced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office, spoke after meeting with members of the Election Commission, who had suggested the date.
Surayud told reporters that his government and all government agencies concerned were ready to support and cooperate with the commission on implementing that date for the polls. The date, which is up to the commission, will become officially set only after King Bhumibol Adulyadej issues a royal decree.
Thailand held a national referendum on August 19 that approved a new constitution, clearing the way for the new polls. The constitution, the country’s 18th, replaces one scrapped by the military after last year’s bloodless coup. Surayud‘s government has been sharing administrative duties with the military under an interim charter.
Thailand has been in a state of political instability since early last year, when mass demonstrations broke out, with protesters demanding that Thaksin step down because of alleged corruption and abuse of power.
Thaksin, whose Thai Rak Thai Party won landslide election victories in 2001 and 2005, staged a general election in April last year, but it was boycotted by opposition parties. The boycott meant that some parliamentary seats could not be legally filled because of a failure to meet minimum voter turnout rules, and the polls were later declared invalid by the courts.
A court this year found Thaksin’s party had committed electoral fraud in last April’s election, and ordered it dissolved, and more than 100 of its top members, including Thaksin, barred from running for public office.
Thaksin was abroad at the time of the coup, and remains in exile. He faces several legal cases in Thailand on corruption charges.
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