No delay to election, Prayut insists
Surachai's comments are his 'personal view'
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed again that the roadmap for holding the general election expected later this year will not be delayed.
He has also refused to exercise his power under Section 44 of the interim constitution to grant an amnesty to political offenders.
Gen Prayut responded to comments by National Legislative Assembly (NLA) deputy chairman Surachai Liangboonlertchai that the assembly may not finish deliberating the 10 organic laws within the 240-day timeframe, and this could push the election back to the middle of next year.
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Of the 10 organic bills, three are essential to holding the election -- the bills governing electing MPs, political parties, and the Election Commission.
Apart from the 10 organic bills, the NLA will also have to consider more than 100 other legislative bills, Mr Surachai said.
Gen Prayut said the timeframe has been specified for the new constitution, the organic laws, and the election.
After the organic bills become law, a period of 150 days will also be needed to prepare for the election and to allow for election campaigns, he added.
Gen Prayut also said the government's 20-year national development strategy and action plans for reforms will also get off the ground this year.
The government will launch campaigns to boost public awareness of these plans and promote the public's participatory role in the 20-year national strategy and reform process, Gen Prayut said, adding there are about 138 action plans for reforms.
Some reform measures have been implemented already, he said, adding he also plans to set up a steering committee to push for reforms, the national strategy, and national unity.
Gen Prayut stressed all sides must take part in solving any conflicts and moving the country forward, rather than seeking an amnesty.
"Many people are talking a lot about the election. But have any of them ever said how they will reform the country?" Gen Prayut asked. "As for a proposal for the use of Section 44 to grant an amnesty, this is not my concern. Don't mess with this Section 44 of mine."
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon offered assurances the government will keep to the original roadmap and timeframe for holding the election as originally promised by the prime minister. He went on to add that Mr Surachai's comments on the election possibly being delayed until the middle of next year are only an assumption.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam also maintained the roadmap for holding the election this year remains unchanged.
Mr Wissanu said the NLA should put in extra effort to clear the backlog of legislative bills pending deliberation so this would not delay the roadmap for holding the election.
More speed from the Constitution Drafting Committee, which submits the organic bills to the NLA for deliberation, could also help.
Army chief Chalermchai Sittisat, who is also the secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order, said Wednesday the opinion offered by Mr Surachai was only his personal view, and that it did not represent the collective opinion of the NLA.
Peerasak Porjit, another NLA deputy chairman, added the NLA had no intention of delaying the election.