Government can't commit on election timing

Government can't commit on election timing

Royal succession won't delay process, says deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon: 'The government is doing its best'
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon: 'The government is doing its best'

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon admitted Monday he could not say for sure if a general election would take place next year, but insisted the government was doing its best to stick to the roadmap.

Gen Prawit, also deputy chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said the government remained committed to the blueprint heading for the next elections, but could not rule out unusual circumstances which could head it off course.

"I really can't say but we are holding on to it. We're proceeding with the plan which has procedures and steps. Now we have the charter, so next are the organic laws. Things are so far, so good," he said.

He said political parties were not allowed to meet and conduct activities pending the completion of organic laws.

The deputy prime minister expressed confidence the political transition would be smooth. "If the people fully cooperate, things will proceed [as planned]. The government is doing its best to answer to the people's needs," he said.

Responding to a reporter's question on whether the royal succession process would affect the roadmap, Gen Prawit said the matter would not cause any changes.

According to the roadmap, an election will be called late next year but the royal cremation for His Majesty the late King is expected to be organised late in the year as well.

Meanwhile, authorities are gearing up for massive crowds expected to turn up to pay respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej this coming weekend.

The mourners will turn out in droves during the three-day holiday, Dec 3-5, after Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall reopens to the public.

The throne hall will be off-limits to the public on Thursday and Friday as royal ceremonies are underway to mark the 50th day since the Oct 13 passing of His Majesty.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is also holding a big clean-up campaign at Sanam Luang and surrounding areas on those days.

Maj Gen Thammanoon Withi, commander of the First Army Region, said BMA workers will begin the clean-up at 9.30pm Thursday and the activity will extend to Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and to the Royal Plaza.

Deputy Bangkok governor Thaweesak Lertprapan said volunteers should call No.1555 to register first before meeting on Thursday at 7.30am.

He said up to 3,000 volunteers and troops from the First Army Region are expected to take part in the clean-up campaign.

No additional roads will be closed during the clean-up.

Currently eight routes near Sanam Luang are closed to traffic.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said the number of mourners is expected to surge over the long weekend, and authorities are doing their best to accommodate the mourners.

As for activities to mark New Year, he said City Hall is waiting for the guidelines from the cabinet, but it is definitely banning the sale and use of fireworks.

Also Monday, the Fine Arts Department unveiled the blueprints for Phra Merumat , or royal funeral pyre, and other buildings to be constructed for the royal cremation of the late King.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn, who chairs the government's panel in charge of the building of Phra Merumat and other structures, said the royal funeral pyre adheres to royal traditions and religious beliefs.

Phra Merumat will be 50.49 metres high, illustrating the imagery of Mount Sumeru which, according to traditional beliefs, is where the King's divine spirit will return to.

The funeral site will be decorated with images of deities, mythical creatures and wall paintings featuring stories related to the late King's royally-initiated projects.

Ponds will be constructed at the four corners, featuring the Chai Pattana Foundation wind turbines.

According to Gen Tanasak, the compound can accommodate 7,400 people and will display exhibits on the late King's royally-initiated projects.

Sanam Luang, where the royal pyre will be built, will be sealed off for construction in January with construction work expected to be completed in September.

Anandha Chuchoti, chief of the Fine Arts Department, said royal containers for relics and ashes are being designed and will be presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for approval.

As for the refurbishment of the main royal chariot and other wagons to be used in the funeral procession, he said the army's Ordinance Department and Naval Dockyard Department will look after the structural and mechanical maintenance work.

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