January 27, 2018 / 12:35 PM / 8 months ago

Thai pro-democracy activists protest against junta delaying polls

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Pro-democracy activists in Thailand and more than a hundred supporters gathered on Saturday in a rare show of dissent to protest against the country’s military government for delaying a general election.

A pro-democracy protester wearing the face mask with a written message, takes part in a protest against junta delaying polls in Bangkok, Thailand January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had said a general election would take place in November 2018. The date has been postponed several times since the military took power in a 2014 coup.

The protest on Saturday was a reaction to a decision by Thai lawmakers this week to change an election law, which meant the vote would be pushed back possibly until January or February next year.

Rangsiman Rome (C) speaks during a protest against junta delaying polls in Bangkok, Thailand January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Critics and analysts have said the move could be a ploy by the ruling junta to hold on to power.

“We are gathering here today to demand that the election take place this year, in November, like General Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised,” prominent activist Rangsiman Rome told a crowd of protesters chanting that they wanted to go to the polls.

Rangsiman and Sirawith Seritiwat, another activist leader, also threatened that there will be protests next month.

“On February 10, unless the junta says elections will take place in November this year, we will meet at Democracy Monument,” Sirawith said.

The gathering ended after almost two hours without violence.

Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Mark Potter

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