Thailand set for general election on July 3

Dr Panitan, the government spokesman

Thailand’s general election has been set to be held on July 3 after His Majesty the King yesterday endorsed a Royal decree to dissolve the House of Representatives and set the date for the country’s ballot casting.

Government Spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said yesterday during a news briefing that the country’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has already endorsed the Royal decree which would come into effect today and the election will be held on the date.
The announcement by Dr Panitan was prior to the nationally televised address of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva scheduled for 8.30 p.m. last night, summarising the implementation of several projects by his government during the tenure of more than two years since December 2008.

In his address, the Thai premier also thanked the members of the Lower House, the Cabinet member and the officials of all ministries for performing their duties the best that his government can push forward several policies into effects, and moreover confirmed to all Thai people that he had done his best throughout his term of premiership even though some people might not happy with some of his efforts.

Meanwhile, the government controlled MCOT Plc reported that during its tenure the Abhisit administration’s Democrat-led coalition has encountered both political turbulence and economic problems, resulting in demands for the premier’s resignation or the dissolution of Parliament.
One major crisis taking place during the Abhisit administration has been the repeated demonstrations of the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), so called the “Red Shirts”, which last year culminated in violence and the death of 90 people including protesters, soldiers and some civilians.
The prime minister earlier reasserted to anti-government groups that the Lower House will be dissolved only when economic condition is favourable, the charter is amended and political divisiveness is diminished.
Prime Minister Abhisit however announced he would dissolve Parliament in the first week of May immediately after the two drafts of the charter amendment regarding changes in the electoral system from single constituency to multiple seats, and a parliamentary approval requirement for international treaties have been approved by Parliament, taking effect March 5.
The term of the Democrat-led government finishes at the end of this year. It is the 12th Thai government having ended with the dissolution of the House. The previous dissolution took place in February 2006 when fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra announced the move following the pressure from the yellow-clad People’s Alliance for Democracy.
Under the terms of dissolution, the authority of the Abhisit Cabinet ends with the royal decree to dissolve the parliament, but a caretaker government will run the country until a new Cabinet is appointed following the general election.
The caretaker Cabinet has legitimacy to announce the enforcement of measures to ensure national security such as a state of emergency or martial law, but is prohibited from transferring civil servants or government officials, and approving any project which will be binding to the new government, the MCOT said.