The law prohibits Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from campaigning for any political party in the run-up to the election, including a party that nominates him to be the next head of government, his deputy, Wissanu Krea-ngam, said on Sunday.
The party that nominates General Prayut as its prime ministerial candidate can seek support from eligible voters, but the premier is unable to campaign for that party, Wissanu said.
Wissanu, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, explained that, as a state official, the prime minister needs to remain politically neutral and refrain from acting in favour or against any political party. This prohibition is stated in the MP Election Act, he said.
Also, the premier is unable to take part in any party’s campaigning events, the deputy PM said.
What the prime minister can do is to urge eligible voters to exercise their right to vote and to vote for people they believe are suitable to become members of Parliament, Wissanu said.
Asked whether the election tentatively scheduled for February 24 should be postponed if political parties called for it in unison, the deputy PM said the Election Commission (EC) would have to decide, not the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order.
He said the EC was ready for the election on February 24 but it would have to take into consideration any call for postponement if it came from many parties that felt they were still unprepared.
Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan said on Sunday he was “100-per-cent sure” the election would not come on February 24.
Jatuporn, a former member of the Pheu Thai Party, said that at least 31 parties were still waiting to be endorsed by the EC’s party registrar. He did not think the endorsements would come before the November 26 deadline.
He called on the authorities to “tell people the truth” and give an exact date for the election to be held.
Jatuporn said a prominent Thai recently told the media in Belgium that the next election would be held sometime between February and May.
Wissanu last week announced a calendar for the election, saying it must be held within 150 days of a new law on MP elections taking effect on December 11.