Thai junta leaders are tightening relationships with supporters of the Shinawatra family in a bid to retain power through elections expected next year, analysts and rights activists said as Thailand approaches a fifth year under military rule with no firm date for polls in sight.
On May 22, 2014, then-Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha overthrew the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. He dissolved parliament, detained political leaders and imposed a curfew while promising to bring Thailand back to democracy within 18 months.
But four years later, Prayuth has yet to provide a concrete timeframe for a general election, although the 64-year-old leader has announced plans for a vote in February 2019.
“We see the attempts to form connections with local influential people in some constituencies with cozy welcoming,” said Thitipol Pakdeewanich, a political science lecturer at Ubon Ratchathani University. “It is an old trick to make sure that the military’s status quo remains intact after we have a civilian government following the planned elections.”
Thitipol was referring to Prayuth’s recent trips to rural northeastern provinces, including Buriram, a known electoral bailiwick of the Shinawatras.
But Prayuth, at a news briefing Tuesday after his provincial visit, rejected insinuations that he was courting support from voters.
“What is wrong with visiting constituencies? I have never recruited anyone,” he said.
Full story: BenarNews
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