Monday, September 24, 2018
World

Thailand's junta eases politics ban in step toward polls

BANGKOK (AP) ó Thailand has taken another step toward holding elections next year by easing some restrictions on political activities to allow parties to conduct basic functions, but they are still barred from campaigning.

A special order issued by the prime minister, which became law Friday following its publication in the Royal Gazette, allows political parties to gather funds to operate and, with the ruling junta's permission, recruit party members and choose new leaders.

The order comes two days after enactment of laws covering the selection of members of Parliament and senators that mandate that a general election be held between February and May next year. The ruling junta has previously postponed several promised election deadlines.

Deputy Prime Prawit Wongsuwan said Thursday that elections are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 24, repeating previous assertions by other senior officials.

The military banned virtually all formal political party activities after it took over from an elected government in a May 2014 coup.

Friday's order, issued under an emergency law the military enacted after seizing power, said restrictions are still necessary to make sure the country, which it says is now "relatively stable," is on track to achieve the government's reform goals.

Critics have said that a new constitution and other laws enacted under military rule weaken democratic structures with the intention of limiting the power of elected politicians and keeping it in the hands of traditional Thai powerholders, including the judiciary and the military. For example, all senators in the next government will be appointed by the ruling junta, apart from six senatorial positions which automatically go to army and police chiefs.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to run in the polls, or at least make himself available for the next parliament to reappoint him prime minister.

Friday's six-page order allows parties to establish budgets and gather funds from their members. It also allows parties to make rule changes, recruit new members, and choose leaders on the condition that the junta is informed at least five days in advance.

Thawatchai Terdpaothai, a member of the Election Commission, said Friday that it will hold a meeting with all political parties on Sept. 28 to explain the regulations and to hear any concerns the parties may have.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, the country's oldest, announced Friday on the online messaging platform LINE that his party will hold a meeting of senior members on Monday to plan for a broader Sept. 24 meeting at which it will adjust its rules to meet the new election regulations and organize the registration of new members.

Comments
UK's Labour opposition says it might back new Brexit vote

UK's Labour opposition says it might back new Brexit vote

Britain's main opposition party has taken a step toward backing a new referendum on Brexit _ but has stopped short of saying the vote should include an option not to leave the European Union at all
Updated: 1 hour ago
Russia to send newer, S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

Russia to send newer, S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

Russia to send newer, S-300 missile defense systems to Syria after last week's downing of Russian plane
Updated: 1 hour ago

EU takes Poland to its top court over judicial reform

The European Union has decided to take Poland it its top court over disagreements on the overhaul of its judicial system that is seen as a violation of Western democratic standards
Updated: 2 hours ago

George Soros foundation sues Hungary on laws targeting NGOs

The Open Society Foundations, created by billionaire George Soros, says it has filed applications before the European Court of Human Rights and Hungary's Constitutional Court about recent laws in Hungary targeting civic groups assisting asylum-seekers
Updated: 2 hours ago

Germany continues evicting protesters from forest

Authorities in western Germany say they are continuing the eviction of protesters from a threatened forest after a temporary stop last week due to the death of a journalist
Updated: 2 hours ago

Sky shares rally after Comcast wins bidding war

Shares in Sky are up 8.8 percent after Comcast won a bidding war for the British pay TV giant in a weekend auction that pushed the value of the company to almost 30 billion pounds ($39 billion)
Updated: 2 hours ago
World shares fall on reports China-US trade talks put off

World shares fall on reports China-US trade talks put off

World shares fall after reports say China rejecting talks with US on trade
Updated: 2 hours ago
3 Saudi human rights activists awarded

3 Saudi human rights activists awarded "Alternative Nobel"

Three Saudi human rights activists share "Alternative Nobel" with two Latin American anti-corruption fighters
Updated: 2 hours ago
Merkel: German government must give up internal squabbles

Merkel: German government must give up internal squabbles

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it's time for her coalition government to stop getting bogged down in internal disputes after its leaders reached a deal to resolve its second crisis in only three months
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mandela: A life of soaring symbolism, now harnessed by UN

Mandela: A life of soaring symbolism, now harnessed by UN

The U.N. is harnessing the soaring symbolism of Nelson Mandela, whose South African journey from anti-apartheid leader to prisoner to president to global statesman is one of the 20th century's great stories of struggle, sacrifice and reconciliation
Updated: 2 hours ago