Thailand will stick to 2019 date for general election, deputy PM says

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (R) and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan look on before a weekly cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK (Reuters) - There will be no delays to a general election planned in Thailand for 2019, the deputy prime minister said on Wednesday, amid the concerns of government critics and the opposition that it could be pushed back.

The military government, which came to power after a 2014 coup, has promised to hold an election between February and May next year, following repeated delays on the grounds of constitutional and legislative steps needed ahead of a vote.

“If you ask whether the election will be delayed, well, it is only others who are saying this, not the government,” Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters.

“We are still looking at February 24.”

Critics of the military government, including Thai opposition parties, have accused it of deliberately delaying the vote to consolidate its power base and ensure its influence over politics beyond a general election.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, 64, who, as army chief, led the coup, has indicated he sees a public role for himself after the election to bring in a civilian government and end more than four years of military rule.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Clarence Fernandez