BANGKOK • Thailand’s junta will lift a near four-year ban on political activity in June, an official said yesterday, as space for debate slowly expands in the kingdom with polls promised for next year.
Political gatherings of five or more people have been outlawed since Thailand’s army grabbed power in a May 2014 coup, booting Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government from power.
The generals, who have repeatedly backtracked on promised returns to democracy, insist an election will be held “no later” than February 2019.
Yet while political parties have been allowed to register in anticipation of the vote, they remain barred from discussing policy or meeting without junta permission.
Politicians have demanded that the ban be lifted, and critics accuse the junta of buying time to bolster the chances of new army-linked parties in the upcoming election.
A defence ministry spokesman said the moratorium would soon be lifted, confirming comments the junta’s No. 2 made to the local press on Thursday.
“The initial plan is that the ban would be lifted…