Set election date at once

Set election date at once

The three years of excuses for delaying a free and fair election have run out. It is no longer credible that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha can claim technical or parliamentary procedures remain in the way. While his all-powerful National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) harshly enforces a ban on political activity, the prime minister himself is seen to be openly canvassing support for his own campaign. The public needs and deserves an election date and an end to restrictions on freedom of speech and public gatherings.

Two events last week showed the unfairness and lack of justice in current martial-type law. The prime minister himself went to flood-threatened Phetchaburi province. He met with residents, heard their complaints and, most of all, revelled in their praise. In short, he looked exactly like any politician in Thai history campaigning for an election.

Meanwhile, the NCPO issued a special reminder to Suthep Thaugsuban and his new organisation and political party, the Ruamphalang Prachachartthai Party or Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT). Mr Suthep, who has a deep base of grassroots supporters in Bangkok and in the South, had planned to travel and meet the public. This appeared to be a very similar action to that of the prime minister, in Phetchaburi and many other provinces. But the junta's secretary-general and army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad stepped in harshly to warn Mr Suthep to refrain from any attempt to meet the public.

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