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Thailand eases 4-year-old ban on political activities

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By Agence France-Presse

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Thailand partially eased its ban on political activities, the ruling junta announced Friday, allowing political parties to recruit new members for the first time in four year as the countdown begins for a much-anticipated national poll.

(FILE) A protester holds a placard as she gathers with others during a protest against the junta, near the army headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand on March 24, 2018. (Reuters/Panumas Sanguanwong/ MANILA BULLETIN)

(FILE) A protester holds a placard as she gathers with others during a protest against the junta, near the army headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand on March 24, 2018. (Reuters/Panumas Sanguanwong/ MANILA BULLETIN)

After the military staged a coup in 2014 to oust then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a ban was imposed throughout the country on all political activities.
This included a ban on any public gatherings of more than five people.

On Friday, the junta said in a statement published in the Royal Gazette there would be a “relaxation” on the ban.

Parties will now be permitted to elect their leaders, recruit new members and hold general party meetings if they are able to summon at least 250 members.
However, campaigning – including holding public gatherings – is still forbidden.

“Political parties can communicate with their members electronically, but that type of communication must not be considered as campaigning,” the statement said.

The junta and the Election Commission would decide if any communications was “disrupting public order”.

The junta has repeatedly postponed elections, but King Maha Vajiralongkorn this week endorsed two bills that cleared bureaucratic hurdles to a much-anticipated poll.

An election is required to take place by May.

Senior military leaders have floated a February 24 election date.

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