BANGKOK — Speaking two days after a grenade was thrown at a court house in Bangkok, junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned that an election will not be held until the political climate is stable.
"Can you solve it?" Gen. Prayuth said today in response to a question about underlying political instability suggested by the grenade that was thrown at the Criminal Court on Saturday night. "If you can't solve it, then no election."
"No election!" Gen. Prayuth shouted as the reporter prepared to ask another question. "If you can't solve it, then no election! Are you done now?"
Gen. Prayuth, who seized power from an elected government on 22 May 2014, has promised to hold elections early next year after a new constitution is completed.
According to authorities, there is evidence linking Saturday's grenade attack to the Redshirt movement, which supported the former government toppled in the coup.
Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, including the alleged grenade thrower and the driver of his getaway vehicle, the military says. No one was injured in the blast.
Speaking to reporters today, Gen. Prayuth described the perpetrators as people who still want to continue their "political struggle" in the country.
"But politics is politics. I am not into politics. I have come to work today to move the country forward, and then I will leave," Gen. Prayuth said. "But you can't wait for that. I'm asking, what is happening here? And you like to accuse the government of this and that. I'm asking, when you were in [power], why didn't you do solve the problems? That's all I want to ask."
Gen. Prayuth also cited the grenade attack as a reason to retain martial law, which was imposed two days before the coup last May and empowers authorities to detain suspects and search their homes without court warrants.
"I only use two provisions in the martial law. Who is troubled by it? Who is troubled by it? I'm asking you," Gen. Prayuth fumed this morning. "And you accuse this government of using excessive power and, what do you call it, restricting the rights of the people. When did I do that?"
The grenade attack took place slightly more than a one month after two pipe bombs exploded near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok, slightly injuring one person. No suspects have been arrested in connection with the bombings.
Underground militants believed to be affiliated with both Redshirt and Yellowshirt factions launched numerous grenade and shooting attacks on rival groups prior to the military coup on 22 May 2014. Nearly 30 people were killed in the six months of anti-government protests that preceded the military takeover, and most of the fatalities were protesters killed by shadowy assailants who attacked rally sites.
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