Political ban to stay until 'order restored'
The government will not lift the ban on political activities until calm and order are restored, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday.
However, the premier said the ban would eventually be lifted to allow parties to resume activities in compliance with the constitution and election-related laws.
Gen Prayut made the statement in response to political parties, particularly the Pheu Thai Party, urging the government to remove the ban since the organic law on political parties took effect earlier this month.
Gen Prayut, who also serves as leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said he needed to be sure peace and order has been fully restored, with no chance of political turmoil, before he considers lifting the ban.
However, he said the government would comply with the time frame stipulated by the constitution and election-related laws.
"Rest assured I am thinking about it [lifting the ban] ... But as you see, things are still in disorder. Slanderous remarks still fly around," Gen Prayut said without elaborating.
He said the general election, tentatively scheduled for November 2018, can only be held after the organic bill on the election of MPs is enacted and the new Election Commission (EC) members are chosen, as they will put in place regulations to organise the election.
There have been concerns about the ongoing selection process for new EC members as nobody has so far applied for the posts.
A panel assigned to select EC members is calling for applicants and the application period is due to close on Nov 10.
Earlier, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liangboonlertchai said the NLA expected to receive the last two organic bills -- one on the election of MPs and another on the Senate -- next month.
He said Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan has assured the two bills will be forwarded to the NLA on Nov 21 and Nov 28, respectively.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who oversees national security, said the NCPO has not yet met to discuss the possibility of lifting the political ban as there are still attempts to stir up trouble.
However, he said political parties will be given enough time to manage and proceed with their political activities within the time frame stipulated by the organic law on political parties.
Mr Meechai said yesterday that the organic law on political parties allows the EC to extend the time frame for parties to manage their political activities to make up for lost time during the political ban. This will also provide enough time for new political parties to be established, he said.
The CDC chairman also said that new political parties that are set up after the political ban is lifted may be disadvantaged as they will not have much time for election campaigns.
Former Pheu Thai MP Amnuay Klangpha said yesterday the regime should lift the ban now to allow parties to proceed with their activities as they need time to make preparations as required by the new organic law on political parties.
Moreover, new parties cannot be established as long as the political ban is in place, he added.
Gen Wanlop Rugsanoh, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said yesterday it was normal for politicians to call for the political ban to be lifted, though yesterday's cabinet meeting had not discussed the issue.