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Prawit sets conditions after US-Thailand announcement on 2018 elections

Oct 04. 2017
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By THE NATION

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UNITED STATES President Donald Trump has hailed Thailand’s commitment to a roadmap that would see free and fair elections held in 2018, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries following Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to the White House.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, however, reiterated in Thailand that the election date would be set after the completion of the relevant organic laws plus 150 days for election preparations.

The statement said Trump welcomed the commitment to the roadmap, which upon implementation of relevant organic laws as stipulated in the Constitution, would lead to free and fair elections in 2018. 

Prayut had assured Trump during their meeting at the White House on Tuesday that an election date would be announced next year, with the election to follow within 150 days, as stipulated in the charter. Prayut said he raised the subject without prompting from Trump.

The Thai premier led a delegation to Washington that included Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and top-level economic officials. They are spending three days in the US and meeting other senior state and business officials. Tuesday’s meeting between Prayut and Trump in the Oval Office signalled the revitalisation of Thai-US relations following a chilled period resulting from the 2014 coup led by Prayut.

Prawit, however, refused to confirm the date despite the joint statement citing “free and fair elections in 2018”. 

Prawit said what the prime minister meant when informing Trump was that he would made the announcement next year about the election date, with a condition that the election would take place after the completion of the laws and the countdown of election-preparation days.

“It’s not that he said the election will be held next year,” Prawit said. “When the election date will be is up to the completion of the organic laws.” 

Two of those laws have been promulgated – the Election Commission and the political parties laws – while the other two, concerning senators and the election of MPs, are still going through the drafting and deliberation process. 

Once that process is completed, there will be another 150 days for preparation by the Election Commission before the election will take place.

 

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