Crisis-hit Thailand will hold fresh general election on July 20, authorities said today, nearly three months after a controversial snap poll was declared invalid deepening the political divide in the country.
The Yingluck Shinawatra-led government and the Election Commission agreed at a meeting this afternoon to set July 20 as the date of the fresh elections after the February 2 snap polls were declared null and void. "We agreed that the most suitable election day is July 20 and the Election Commission will draft the royal decree for the prime minister to submit to the king for royal endorsement," Election Commission (EC) secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said.
Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen said the atmosphere in the meeting was cordial and the caretaker government of premier Yingluck agreed with all the poll panel's proposals.
Ahead of the meeting, Supachai said the Election Commission proposed three election dates - July 20, August 17 and September 14 - to the government. It also presented the results of its earlier meetings with security agencies and political parties as well as the main opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Election Commission member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said the government must ensure a free and fair election and it must stay neutral. He said the caretaker government must not abuse power for its advantage and the security agencies must provide support in maintaining peace and order during the election process.
Somchai said the Election Commission might postpone the election in problematic places where balloting does not take place properly. Yingluck, on her Facebook page, said she had attended a meeting to follow up the work of government agencies. She hoped that the election delayed for more than three months would take place thus allowing the people to get the government they wanted soon.
Buddhist-majority Thailand has been rocked by months of political violence that has left several people dead and hundreds wounded, including many anti-government protesters, in grenade attacks and shootings. The anti-government protesters accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother, former premier Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006.
General elections were held on February 2 which was boycotted by the main opposition Democrat Party. The polls were later held invalid by the Constitution Court.