Thailand lifts ban on political activities ahead of vote | News | DW | 11.12.2018
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Thailand lifts ban on political activities ahead of vote

Thailand has again announced a general election, this time in February, more than four years after a military government seized power and called the move temporary. The junta lifted a ban on political activities.

Thailand's military junta on Tuesday lifted a ban on political campaigning ahead of elections planned to take place on February 24 next year.

"Political parties should be able to campaign to present their policies," said an order published in the Royal Gazette.

The government imposed a strict ban on political activity when it took power in a 2014 coup. It has promised elections on multiple occasions since without delivering. Coup leaders in 2014 cited a need for law and order after months of protests against the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Puea Thai Party.

"The people and political parties will be able to take part in political activities during this period leading up to the election in accordance with the constitution," said a statement from the military government.

The election looks likely to pit the populist political movement of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra — Yingluck's brother — against the military and royalist establishment.

Read more: Growing calls for elections in Thailand

The Bangkok-based establishment took the reins of power in successive coups in 2006 and 2014. Since then, it has set up its own proxy political parties.

The government, led by former army chief Prayut Chan-ocha, has repeatedly delayed plans for a general election. It had already eased the political ban partially in September, allowing political parties to resume organizing.

Read more: Thailand on its way back to democracy?

The Shinawatra family and its allies formed a new political party - the Thai Raksa Chart Party - in November, ahead of the anticipated election. The move was seen as an effort to create a back-up movement for Puea Thai, which still faces possible dissolution at the hands of the present government.

Both Thaksin and Yingluck live in self-imposed exile after both being convicted of abuses of power while in office. 

rc/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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