Thai PM says elections to be held no later than February next year

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand's junta chief said on Tuesday, February 27, that long-promised elections would now take place no later than February 2019, 3 months later than the deadline he previously set.

The military men who seized power in 2014 have repeatedly reneged on holding elections while keeping a system in place that bans political gatherings of more than five people.

"I say it clearly, that the election will be held no later than February 2019," said Prime Minister and junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

He had previously said the vote would be held no later than November this year.

Even with the extended deadline Prayut made room for additional delays, adding that "it will also depend on the country situation" and urging reporters to "stop asking about the election".

The regime says it was forced to topple an elected government to help restore stability after a decade of political turmoil.

But as the May anniversary of the coup nears, patience with military rule is wearing thin and protesters are slowly returning to the streets despite the ban on gatherings.

At least 40 people have been charged after attending pro-democracy rallies this month, and activists recently launched continuing weekly protests.

A series of high-profile scandals have deepened unease about the junta, with much of the anger directed at Prayut's number two Prawit Wongsuwan, who is being probed for a collection of some two dozen luxury watches he allegedly failed to declare in his assets.

The date of the poll depends on a package of election laws that still must take effect. –