BANGKOK — The interior affairs minister confirmed Tuesday a leaked memo instructing officials across the country to halt election preparations is genuine.
The leak sparked fresh outrage among opposition activists, some of whom are set to gather today to protest yet another delay to the poll, while the government and the Election Commission trade blame for not settling on an Election Day.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Gen. Anupong Paochinda said the memo was issued after the government failed to enact legislation that would have set Feb. 24 as the date.
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“Let me confirm again that there will be an election, 1 million percent, no matter which day it would be, and whether it would be sooner or later than we expected,” Anupong said. “We haven’t seen the Royal Decree for this election yet, so we have to wait for clarity.”
The leaked order appeared on social media Monday night. It appears to be an internal memo addressing voting officials in every province. The memo cited the absence of the Royal Decree for its order to declare that “all preparations for elections are hereby halted.”
Many expected the decree to be issued just after New Year’s Day, but the government did not enact it and gave no explanation why.
Anupong went on to say the government is waiting for a cue from the Election Commission on what to do next.
“The Ministry of Interior Affairs is ready to do whatever the [commission] informs us. There is no other agenda,” the general said.
On the same day, commission president Ittiporn Boonprakong said his agency must wait for the government to enact the Royal Decree before Election Day can be set.
“The EC will deliberate and designate the election date as soon as possible, but there is no particular date at the moment,” Ittiporn said. “It’s up to the date [set] by the Royal Decree.”
Although the junta has insisted since early last year that elections would be held Feb. 24, officials in recent days have walked back that promise. Key government leaders suggest the vote might be postponed to make way for a ceremony to crown King Vajiralongkorn, set to take place May 4-6. Election law stipulates voting must happen by May 9.
The growing uncertainty will likely fuel protests such as one planned at 5pm today at Ratchaprasong Intersection. Activists say they want to send a message that another delay is unacceptable.