Thailand's next election in exactly one year: deputy PM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - An election to restore democracy in military-ruled Thailand will take place a year from now, the government said on Wednesday, affirming for the first time widespread expectations a vote the military had promised for this year will be postponed.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures as he arrives at a weekly cabinet meeting at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

“One year from today, there’ll be elections,” Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters.

The military government that came to power in a 2014 coup had repeatedly said a general election would be held in 2017, even after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct. 13 raised doubts about the timing, given a one-year period of official mourning for the revered monarch.

Wissanu said the conclusion of the junta’s election timeline could not be clearly set down as a new constitution, a key part of the junta’s plans to restore democratic rule, is being amended.

The military-backed constitution was approved in a referendum last year.

It has been awaiting endorsement by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who succeeded his father in December, but last month, the king’s office asked for several changes to clauses related to royal power in the draft, a rare intervention by a sitting Thai monarch.

Wissanu said on Tuesday the government had nearly finished the revision and would submit the amended version for royal endorsement by Feb. 18.

The king has 90 days to approve it.

Political activity has largely ceased in Thailand to mark the period of mourning for King Bhumibol.

The party that led the government ousted in the 2014 coup, which is loyal to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was himself ousted in a 2006 coup, said earlier it would not object to a slight delay in the election if for royal prerogatives.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Robert Birsel