Thailand could call an election in November after it completes its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, the first indication of polls before the government's term ends.
Prawit Wongsuwan, an influential royalist and former army chief, was responding to news reports that he had met some leaders of the 17-party coalition on Monday to propose house dissolution after the summit in mid-November.
Thai election law stipulates an election must be held within 60 days of parliament being dissolved.
“I said when APEC is completed the government will be free and if we dissolve (the house) we can do so then,” Prawit told reporters on Tuesday.
“Whether we will dissolve it or not that is up to the prime minister,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if Prawit's proposal has the backing of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, whose four-year term ends next year.
Prayuth, a retired general and protégé of Prawit, seized power in a 2014 coup and remained prime minister after a 2019 election, the rules of which his critics say were designed to keep him in office. Prayuth has rejected that.
Asked on Tuesday about a Prawit's proposal, Prayuth said: “It depends on the situation”.
Prawit's suggestion is the first election timeframe floated by the government and comes amid signs of growing discord in the coalition, and as the opposition prepares a censure motion in May.
Last month, seven ministers refused to attend a cabinet meeting over a disagreement about an urban rail project, a few weeks after 21 lawmakers were expelled from Prayuth's ruling Palang Pracharat Party for causing disunity.