Talks to lift ban by early December
A pre-election dialogue on the lifting of the political ban will proceed as planned and should take place in early December at the latest, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Speaking during a mobile cabinet meeting in Chiang Rai, Gen Prayut said preparations are under way for the planned discussion between the regime and political parties, but when it takes place has not yet been determined.
He said it should take place in late November or early December at the latest, adding that he has asked Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to collect opinions, formal and informal, from concerned parties for the time being.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has relaxed the ban, allowing political parties to hold meetings to select party executives, recruit members, give opinions on the demarcation of constituencies, and conduct primary votes to choose poll candidates.
However, the regime still maintains the ban on public gatherings of more than five people and political campaigning.
Pheu Thai is one of the latest parties to have convened a meeting to elect its executives. Pol Lt Gen Viroj Pao-in, who previously served as its acting leader, was voted its new leader with Phumtham Vechayachai as secretary-general.
Gen Prayut yesterday also refused to discuss his political future, saying now was not the time for him to say anything and urged people not to focus on the matter.
Earlier, the prime minister admitted he was interested in politics which intensified speculation that he would seek to return as premier after the general election. The poll is tentatively scheduled for Feb 24 next year.
He said he is not deterred by criticism of the government and the NCPO and will not let it affect his decisions.
Mr Wissanu said Gen Prayut has a busy schedule in November but the talks between the regime and political parties are expected to take place within the month.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has endorsed five new political parties and dissolved the Khon Thai Party. The five endorsed parties are Paendin Tham, Prachachart, Palang Chart Thai, Prachatham Thai, and Khlong Thai.