Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has now promised to conduct the long-awaited election no later than February 2019. There is still widespread suspicions whether he would keep up his word, given his poor track record.
Prayuth, a former military general, took charge of the country in a coup in 2014 and has pledged on several occasions that a democratic process would be kick-started but never upheld those promises. All the announcements over carrying out polls have been postponed several times.
"Now I will answer clearly, an election will take place no later than February 2019," the Thai junta ruler told reporters adding a caveat that the plan is still conditional provided the political atmosphere remains favourable.
Pressure has been mounting on him both domestically and elsewhere to carry out polls as critics chide him for clinging on to power until a situation prevails in which a party he favours wins the election. There have also been corruption scandals against the regime which has spoiled Prayuth's reputation.
Disappointed political parties criticised him over the announcement as he had promised to hold the general election before November 2018. "From what he has said recently, we can't believe what he says right now. His comments are no longer trustworthy," opposition figure and Deputy Democrat Party leader Nipit Intarasombat told the Bangkok Post. Other critics and political opponents have echoed similar sentiments.
However, with the Thai regime is set to open up allowing political activities to take place in the country – which remained banned since May 2014 – political parties are upbeat over the situation hoping that the Southeast Asian nation would soon return to democracy.
Soon after the registration opens on Friday, 2 March, more than 100 political parties are expected to be launched in the first few weeks and prepare for a lengthy campaign phase.