Ousted Pheu Thai party urges junta to lift politics ban

The Pheu Thai party was founded by ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. (Photo: File)
The Pheu Thai party was founded by ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. (Photo: File)

The Pheu Thai party called on the junta yesterday to end its ban on political activities, saying the prolonged clampdown could delay elections promised for 2018.

The ruling generals have barred any political activity  since their 2014 coup overthrew a Pheu Thai government, the second coup against the political bloc in a decade.

Last month, junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha vowed to hold elections in November of 2018.

But he has refused to lift the ban on political gatherings, saying Tuesday that the “situation is still not in order.”

Pheu Thai slammed the comments, saying the junta’s “continued ban on political activities might become a way to delay the election just like the many other excuses in the past.”

Prayuth initially promised to return power to civilians within 18 months of his 2014 coup, but that date has repeatedly slipped.

While the generals defend their rule as an attempt to end a decade of political unrest, critics accuse them of trying to dismantle Pheu Thai’s political dynasty.

The party, led by ousted premiers and siblings Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, has dominated elections for a decade but is loathed by the army and the Bangkok elite.

Both Thaksin, who was toppled in 2006, and Yingluck are now living in self-exile after being convicted of graft in separate court cases.

Yingluck fled the country in late August before the verdict in her court case and has not been seen in public since.

Even when elections are held, they will not restore the same level of democracy that Thailand had before the coup.

A new junta-drafted charter curbs the power of elected politicians and calls for a fully appointed upper house, with several spots reserved for military leaders.

The military has further enshrined its role by declaring that any future administration must adhere to its “legally binding 20-year-plan” for the country.

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