PM eyes September for next election meeting

PM eyes September for next election meeting

Prayut says time is needed to study this week's talks

The prime minister says there could be another junta-politicians meeting about the election in three months or so, and added there must be reconciliation
The prime minister says there could be another junta-politicians meeting about the election in three months or so, and added there must be reconciliation

The next meeting between party politicians and the regime to discuss poll preparations will probably take place in September, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Wednesday.

The next round will be a follow-up session on this week's meeting which saw most parties represented at the Army Club in Bangkok.

Gen Prayut, also leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said the NCPO and government need time to study issues raised by the parties at the first meeting.

The issues which dominated the meeting included calls for the political activities ban to be lifted and what to do with the primary voting system.

The parties insisted the primaries were a burden as they have to organise the vote to select MP candidates themselves. The parties felt there might not be enough time to arrange the voting before the general election in February next year, especially if the government is slow to lift the ban on activities.

Some critics and government insiders have reportedly mulled over the possibility of the prime minister exercising his power under Section 44 to suspend primary voting.

Gen Prayut said the substance of this week's meeting was vital for the NCPO and the government to decide what to do to enable poll preparations.

He gave his assurance the next election will be free, fair and proceed smoothly, adding there will be enough time for political parties to campaign for votes.

In the meantime, Gen Prayut said the NCPO and the government are monitoring the security situation and making the political climate conducive for organising the election. However, the prime minister insisted national reconciliation must be achieved before voters cast their ballots.

"We're moving the country forward together. The situation must be stable," he said.

Gen Prayut rejected speculation he might announce his decision to become a fully-fledged politician in September, a time many critics thought was most opportune for him to make such a move to prepare himself and fulfill legal as well as technical conditions for returning as premier post-election.

Also Wednesday, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the cabinet has approved in principle a regulation drafted for following up implementation of the 20-year national strategy and reform plan.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said Gen Prayut was looking to establish a special committee to speed up major investment projects. The panel will aim to remove regulatory obstacles slowing a project's progress. The problems will be dealt with quickly, which would be of benefit to investors, according to Mr Somkid.

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