Bangkok protesters demand end to election delays | News | DW | 11.02.2018
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Bangkok protesters demand end to election delays

Around 400 protesters have rallied in the Thai capital to call on the government to restore democracy and hold elections. The junta still hasn't fulfilled its pledge to organize polls after seizing power four years ago.

Demonstrators gathered in front of Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Saturday after the junta announced it would likely postpone the vote for a fifth time.

A large police contingent was deployed to the scene, where protesters waved signs saying "disgusted with dictatorship," and chanted "the people want elections, the people want democracy."

Thailand's military leaders pledged to hold elections soon after they took control in a coup in May, 2014. Since then, a number of dates for the poll have been scheduled, and then postponed.

The junta says the delays were necessary in order to ensure national security and allow reforms to be implemented. Critics argue the military only wants to prolong its time in power.

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Little progress two years after Thai military coup

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the commander who led the coup, said last year there would be elections in November 2018. But a motion passed by parliament in January to defer an election law by three months means the vote will now almost certainly be pushed back to 2019.

Growing discontent

Saturday's protest was one of the largest shows of anti-government sentiment in recent years, and a sign that activist groups who want a return to civilian rule are losing patience.

Organizers of the demonstration said a number of people were arrested for taking part. More than 30 activists are also facing charges for holding a pro-democracy protest last month.

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"It is very clear that regardless of the fear tactics and intimidation, and baseless charges that the junta slapped on protesters, they remain defiant and relentless in expressing their rights and their freedom peacefully," Sunai Pasuk, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Thailand, said.

"They are reminding the junta of their own promises to hold an election by the end of this year and returning Thailand to democracy."

nm/bw (Reuters, AP, dpa) 


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