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Thai PM Prayuth assures general election in 2017

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha addresses the nation and summarises the junta government's annual report in Bangkok, Thailand, December 23, 2015.

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday that a general election will take place in 2017, amid criticism that a draft constitution unveiled last week would delay the poll.

A draft constitution released on Friday has been pilloried by all major political parties, raising fears it will be rejected in a July referendum, delaying a return to democracy.

“The year 2017, 2017, 2017,” a visibly irritated Prayuth told reporters in response to a question about when an election will be held.

Last week, Prayuth said Thailand will hold an election in 2017 even if the draft constitution does not pass the referendum.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Michael Perry