At Least 10 New Parties to Register Tomorrow: Election Official

Miss Universe Thailand 2016 winner Chalita Suansane votes in a referendum in August 2016

BANGKOK —  At least 10 groups will formally register as new political parties Friday, an official in charge of the procedures said today.

After months of speculation and intrigue behind closed doors, those hoping to run in the next election will have to be present at 7:30am at the Election Commission to file their parties. Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said he expects the registration to run smoothly.

“We have rehearsed and briefed our staff. I think we are ready,” Somchai said. “I think at least 10 groups will be there tomorrow.”

Friday will mark the first time formal political activities will be permitted since the 2014 coup. While any other kind of campaigning or meeting of parties remain forbidden, the junta made exception for new parties to register.

Somchai said no group has confirmed directly to him so far that they will register tomorrow.

But at least two political factions already made their intention clear to the media that they will file for name registration Friday and run in the next election, now slated to take place February 2019.

The first is the New Palang Dharma group, or “New Moral Force.” The clique is led by Rawee Maschamadol, a former student activist turned guerrilla fighter in the 1970s. He’s a physician who played a leading role in the 2014 street protests against the elected government at the time.

Rawee was convicted in 2017 for leading demonstrators to break into the Energy Ministry during the protests. He was given a suspended jail term.

The other group pledging to register is Thai Civilized. Among the party leaders is Natchapol “Mark Pitbull” Supattana, a YouTube personality known for his fiery critiques on current events. Natchapol was briefly detained by the junta in December after he suggested the regime’s popularity was plummeting.