Anger as Thai PM delays polls again

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday that a general election he had promised to hold in November would take place "no later" than next February, the latest delay to anger critics of the government.

The junta has promised and postponed it several times since its 2014 coup overthrew a civilian government.

The latest date was set for November. But last month, the military-appointed legislature changed the election law, pointing to further delay.

Hundreds of people have flocked to Bangkok in recent weeks to urge the military government not to delay the vote, some of the biggest anti-junta demonstrations since 2014.

The latest election delay has shattered people's confidence in General Prayut's timeframe, said Mr Phongthep Thepkanjana, a former deputy prime minister and a senior member of the opposition Pheu Thai Party that represents the Shinawatra family.

Thailand is divided broadly between those backing former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, Yingluck, whose government was removed in the coup, and the elite in Bangkok.

However, the announcement gave investors clarity about Thailand's political future, said Mr Ongart Klampaiboon, deputy leader of the rival Democrat Party.

"This will create more confidence for people in the country, as well as foreign investors and business people who need to assess the political situation in their plans," he told Reuters.

Gen Prayut led the May 2014 coup following street protests aimed at ousting Ms Yingluck's government. Both Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have been living in exile after fleeing jail sentences for separate corruption cases. - REUTERS