BANGKOK — Leaders of the ultra-conservative movement that sought to topple the former government will run for office after the new constitution is enacted, one of the movement's core leaders said in an interview.
The anti-government movement, named the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State (PCAD), was led by nine former MPs who resigned from the Democrat party to join the street protests in November 2013.
Chumpol Julasai, a former Democrat politician and co-founder of the group, told Daily News in an interview on 10 May that almost all of the former politicians will re-join the Democrat Party ticket for the next election, the first since the May 2014 coup.
"When the new constitution is promulgated, PCAD [leaders] will move back to Democrat Party to run as MP candidates for the party," Chumpol was quoted as saying.
The exception will be Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy chairman of the Democrat Party and secretary-general of PCAD, who will not return to politics, but continue to live as a monk in Surat Thani province.
Chumpol's comments provided the first clue to the PCAD leaders’ plans for post-coup politics. Since the military takeover last year, the movement’s core activists have kept a relatively low profile, in part to comply with the junta's ban on political activities.
PCAD protesters, including several armed militants, arrived at Laksi District Office to prevent distribution of ballot papers, 1 February 2014
The ruling junta, which has largely enacted the PCAD’s platform, says the next poll is scheduled to take place in early 2016.
In the interview with Daily News, Chumpol praised the junta for achieving many goals, such as cracking down on corruption, national security threats, and human trafficking.
"If Gen. Prayutha Chan-ocha, Prime Minister and chairman of the [junta], manages to solve economic problems, the government will be able to stay for a long time, because people will be happy," Chumpol said.
According to Daily News, Chumpol also dismissed calls from pro-democracy activists to organize a referendum for the junta's new charter, calling it "a waste of money."
Boycotting the last election
The PCAD protests broke out in late 2014 after the Pheu Thai-led government attempted to pass an amnesty bill that would have pardoned former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, a controversial leader who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and convicted in absentia of a corruption charge.
The protest movement attracted tens of thousands of supporters, and eventually set its eyes on toppling the government led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
In response to the escalating protests, Yingluck dissolved the House and called a snap election on 2 February 2014.
The PCAD and Democrat Party boycotted the poll, insisting that major reforms be implemented by appointed leaders before a new election. The PCAD also blocked polling stations on 2 February, preventing voters in some parts of Thailand from casting their ballots.
The Constitutional Court later nullified the election on the grounds that voting did not occur on the same day throughout the Kingdom.
While the besieged caretaker government struggled to set a date for a new election, the military intervened and staged a coup d'etat on 22 May 2014.