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Thais head to polls for long-awaited general elections

Thais head to polls for long-awaited general elections
Thai people to elect civilian government for first time since 2014, when Royal Thai army led coup

By Faruk Zorlu, Riyaz ul Khaliq and Omer Faruk Yildiz

ANKARA (AA) - Voters in Thailand are heading to polling stations on Sunday for long-awaited general elections since a 2014 military coup.

Polls have opened to vote for a civilian government in Thailand for the first time, when the Royal Thai army ousted the then elected rulers in a coup.

In a statement issued ahead of elections, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn said support "good people" and prevent "bad people" from gaining power.

About 51 million people are eligible to vote in the election.

A total of 81 parties and 68 prime ministerial candidates compete in the elections.

Three main political fronts are competing for the race: supporters, opponents of the military government (Pheu Thai and its allies), and nonaligned parties.

Thai Army-installed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha -- a former army general who led the 2014 coup -- is running for the top executive post from the Palang Pracha Rath Party (PPRP).

A party must secure a majority in both houses of the parliament to form a government.

Some 350 members will be directly elected in the lower house, while the remaining 150 will be seated according to each party's popularity in the polls.

The 250-seat upper house will be appointed entirely by the armed forces.

- Thailand political life

Elections in the southeast Asian country had been delayed four times since 2014, when the army overthrew the civilian government.

The decision to hold polls -- announced on Jan. 23 by the Thai Election Commission -- came after a royal decree was issued by the country’s monarch.

Thailand witnessed its last general election in 2014 when former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the parliament on Dec. 9, 2013, following massive anti-government protests.

Shinawatra was re-elected but subsequently overthrown by the Thai army in 2014.

Incumbent Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong has expressed his support for Prayut.

source: News Feed
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