Prayut promises Thai elections in November 2018


The election announcement comes after Prayuth traveled to the US earlier this month to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House - an embrace the junta chief was denied under Barack Obama's administration.

Last year, the military pushed through a new constitution that critics said would boost military power and limit the sway of elected officials. In 2014, the army seized power once more, toppling Thaksin's sister, Yingluck.

Expectations have mounted that once King Bhumibol is laid to rest later this month, calls for the military to relinquish power would grow.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed that general elections will take place in November next year, amid confusion over the election dates and accusations that the ruling junta has been aiming to prolong its rule since a 2014 coup. In November, we will have an election, ' Prayut said on Tuesday.

He said he would also "consider the timing for relaxing conditions on political parties at the appropriate time".

"Prayuth wants to delay the election but he knows that after the king's cremation, there will be pressure for an election", said Kan Yuenyong of the Siam Intelligence Unit think tank.

The coup that overthrew Yingluck Shinawatra capped a decade-long period of political turmoil that began when her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was himself forced out of office in 2006 by the military, which backed Thailand's Bangkok-based royalist-leaning, wealthy elite.

"This announcement for the election in November next year will act to reduce that pressure, because if not, there could be chances for protests", he said.

The government has faced increasing pressure to lift a ban on political activities levied soon after the coup.

The Shinawatra clan has won all general elections since 2001, harvesting votes by promising greater wealth and opportunity to the rural poor.