Thailand coup: Elections won't take place for another year, says military junta leader

Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha made the announcement in his first speech since the army seized power last week

The leader of Thai’s military junta announced on Friday that elections will not be held in the country for over a year, a week after the army seized power in a bloodless coup

In a speech intended to reassure Thais that the army has a plan to maintain stability and restore democracy in the country, Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha explained that peace and reforms must be the country’s first priorities.

Prayuth added it could take the National Council for Peace and Order, which he heads, up to three months to achieve reconciliation in the deeply divided country, while it would take around a year to write a new constitution and establish an interim government. Only then would elections be held, he said.

“Give us time to solve the problems for you. Then the soldiers will step back to look at Thailand from afar,” he said.

A return to democracy will not happen if there are still “protests without a true understanding of democracy,” he continued in his first public speech since the 22 May takeover, which aimed to end seven months of anti-government protest.

The speech is not expected to win favour among supporters of the recently ousted government, as it largely offered the same program advocated by anti-government protesters who had clashed with police and occupied government offices.

On Friday, the military sealed off a major Bangkok intersection for a second day to prevent a possible protest.

Read more: Ex-PM and her ministers held as junta tightens grip
Taylor Swift cancels Thailand concert after political unrest

Prayuth did not, however, mention former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was the main target of anti-government demonstrators.

Thaksin, who is at the centre of Thailand's political divide, was overthrown in a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was prime minister of the government besieged by protesters, having won a landslide election victory three years ago.

Thaksin is still supported by many rural Thais for his populist programs, but despised by others — particularly Bangkok's elite and middle classes — over allegations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy. He lives abroad in self-imposed exile, but held great influence over the overthrown government led by his sister.

International reaction to the coup has been largely negative – sentiments noted by the NCPO leader.

"We do understand the world's order, that at the moment, it's the world of democracy,” he said, adding: "But let us have time to change our attitudes, values and several other things to solve Thailand's democracy to make it match with the international standards."

The Thai military take over the streets surrounding the Victory Monument on May 30, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Thai military take over the streets surrounding the Victory Monument on May 30, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Read more: What is martial law and why was it imposed?

The United States, a longtime ally of Thailand, responded to the announcement with concern.

"Certainly we don't want anything to end in chaos. But we think setting a timeline for early elections is something that is not just possible, but it's what the appropriate step is and that that should be what their focus is on,"State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.

Since the coup, the junta has take a zero-tolerance stance against dissent, by arresting more than 250 people, including members of the ousted government and other leading political figures, journalists, scholars and activists seen as critical of the regime. Roughly 70 people remain in custody.

Despite the latest political upheaval, life has continued largely as normal in most of the country, with tourists still relaxing at beach resorts and strolling through Buddhist temples in Bangkok and elsewhere.

A curfew remains in effect from midnight to 4 a.m. but has not affected critical travel, including that of tourists arriving at airports. Prayuth said his government would try to ease it as soon as possible.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Masterchef cooks Tony Rodd (left), Emma Spitzer (second left) and
Simon Wood (right) posing with judges Gregg Wallace (centre) and John Torode (second right), as the three will be seen cooking their hearts out in the hopes of winning the show.
TVReview: Tired Geography teacher John Torode and shaved Scotch egg Gregg Wallace crown the champion
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week
voices
Life and Style
life
News
The Grand Palais in Paris will be transformed into a 4,000-seat cinema, with 44 double beds at the front
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road