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Coronation plans threaten poll delay in junta-ruled Thailand

Coronation plans threaten poll delay in junta-ruled Thailand
The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s prime minister said Tuesday his military government will hold elections only after a coronation ceremony for the new Thai king, casting fresh doubt on promises the polls will be held by next February.

The junta seized power from an elected government in May 2014 and has repeatedly pushed back promised dates for holding new polls. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters his government is preparing for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, mentioning — apparently for the first time in public — that the election will take place only after the ceremony.

No date has been set for the coronation, bringing the timing of the polls into question. Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the death of his father in 2016.

“The most important thing that the NCPO is now considering is making preparations for the royal coronation ceremony,” Prayuth said. “Do not forget, all Thais, this is an important issue.” The NCPO is the National Council for Peace and Order, the ruling junta’s formal name.

Prayuth’s mention of the election came in response to a reporter’s question whether it would take place before the coronation or not. He replied “After, of course” and “After the royal coronation” as he walked away from reporters at a Government House news briefing.

Chaturon Chaisaeng, education minister in the government ousted by the 2014 coup, said that because the prime minister did not say when the coronation would take place, the announcement is not yet a political issue. “When the coronation will take place is up to his majesty’s wishes and the government because nobody knows, as of now, when that is. If it takes place soon, for example much before the election, the election will take place as normal.”

“Right now everyone is waiting to hear when the coronation will take place,” Chaturon said.

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