The King of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X) has issued a decree for a new election in the country – which would be its first since the May 2014 coup that overthrew Yingluck Shinawatra (Thailand’s first female Prime Minister). Thailand has been governed by a military junta since then, and elections have been delayed several times over the past five years.
His Majesty’s decree was published on Wednesday in the Royal Gazette giving the Election Commission just five days to announce the date of the election.
The vote had initially been scheduled this year on February 24, but the timing of the decree has cast doubt on the election taking place on the original date.
It is expected for the election to take place before the coronation of King Rama X, 66, in May.
The Royal Household Bureau made the announcement at the beginning of the year saying the coronation and celebration festivities would take place from 4 May through 6 May.
His Majesty will be crowned in a ceremony on 4 May with a celebration procession the following day. The 5th of May will also see a ceremony “bestow the royal name” as per Thai royal tradition. On 6 May, His Majesty will meet the public and foreign dignitaries in a “grand audience.”
The King has expressed his wishes that the coronation ceremony be held in a more modest manner, according to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha last June.
King Rama X came to the throne after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death on 13 October 2016. His father, also called King Rama IX, was beloved in Thailand, and his death led to widespread mourning across the country.
Thailand’s current monarch did not officially ascend the throne until his proclamation as King on the night of 1 December 2016 (the 50th day after his father’s death) at his request. The new monarch wanted time to grief before taking on the role. As such, former Prime Minister of Thailand, Prem Tinsulanonda took on the position of regent until Maha Vajiralongkorn was ready to take the throne. The Thai government later retroactively declared King Rama X’s ascension to the throne as 13 October 2016.