Thai king's death will not halt elections, junta claims 

The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand will not affect plans to hold a general election in 2017.

Published: 18th October 2016 08:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2016 08:18 AM   |  A+A-


Thai people light candles outside Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, thousands of Thai mourners thronged to the palace complex where King Bhumibol Adulyadej's body is being kept (Photo|AP)

By The Daily Telegraph

The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand will not affect plans to hold a general election in 2017, the country's media reported yesterday (Monday).

The reports contradicted speculation that the military government, which came to power in a coup in 2014, might delay the poll in light of the official year of mourning for the king.

"The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year," reported the leading English newspaper The Bangkok Post.

Thais returned to work yesterday morning after a weekend when hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to pay respect to the king. Most still continued to wear white and black clothes as a symbol of mourning.

The wearing of black and white has become a contentious issue, with those who do not comply being denounced on social media as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the royal family.

The monarch, who reigned for 70 years, was considered by many to be close to divine, and harsh lese-majeste laws can mean up to 15 years in prison for insulting the king or his heir.

In the heightened emotion after his death, at least three people have been accused of committing lese-majeste, leading to fears of witch hunts. Yesterday a woman on the holiday island of Koh Samui was forced by police to bow publicly before a portrait of the king. She had been accused of posting comments on social media that were critical of the royal family.

On Saturday hundreds of people gathered at a shop in Takua Thung district, denouncing the owner's son after they were angered by his Facebook posts. Seventy police officers were deployed to bring the crowd under control.

The foreign media has also been criticised. The ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement "deploring" media which reported the number of mourners was in the "thousands", rather than hundreds of thousands. 


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