Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha orders dissolution of parliament, paving way for high-stakes elections

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday ordered to dissolve of the parliament ahead of the all-important general election as the military leader seeks to extend his second term spanning eight years.

The PM issued a decree in this regard and it will be next sent to Thailand’s monarch for approval. It would take effect once it is published in the Royal Gazette, following which the election must be held in 45 to 60 days.

The Election Commission had initially suggested that the polling will take place on May 7, but final confirmation is yet to be made.

“I have prepared (the decree), we have to wait.  We have to wait for the announcement in the Royal Gazette,” Prayuth told reporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai, according to Reuters news agency.

When asked when will the announcement be made, he responded, “We have to wait.”

This high-stakes election is significant for Prayuth’s political career who—after emerging as coup leader in 2014 and then being elected as civilian head—will find it difficult to extend his term as the constitutional will allow only two more years to be prime minister.

Prayuth had jumped the shift to the conservative United Thai Nation party after his previous party, the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party, decided to pick another prime minister candidate.

The stakes are high for Prayuth as he will be pitted against Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The 36-year-old woman has dominated the opinion polls for months, emerging to be the top choice for Thailand’s next prime minister.

Speaking on Friday at an event to introduce Pheu Thai’s candidates, she said that she was confident of winning the election by a landslide.

Pheu Thai party’s previous administration has won every election in the past two decades, but their rule was cut short three times by judicial rulings or military takeovers.

“I have a strong hope that we can form a government for sure, that’s why we go ourselves to campaign about a landslide,” Paetongtarn said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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