Parties will be permitted to campaign for the next general election from December, after the junta lifts restrictions on political activities, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Wednesday.
He said parties would have more than 60 days – “plenty of time” – for campaigning before the national vote, which is expected to be held on February 24.
“That’s more than enough,” he said, noting that in the past, parties had often had fewer than 40 days to campaign after an election had been called.
Wissanu, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, said political parties could start preparing for the election as soon as the law on MP elections takes effect, but they would have to wait longer before they started campaigning.
He expected the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to lift its bans on political activities no later than December.
The deputy PM said the law barred Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cabinet members from contesting the election, although they may become advisers or executives of political parties.
Wissanu said elections for local administrators would be held 90 days after the general election, as agreed by the Election Commission.
“If the general election is held in February 2019, local elections will take place around May 2019,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Wednesday dismissed speculation of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle. He said that the prime minister was unlikely to shake up the Cabinet unless ministers resigned.
“I didn’t hear the prime minister say anything about this. It’s just media speculation,” General Prawit told reporters when asked about the matter.