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Thai General Elections Set for March


Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, arrives at the government house for a cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Sept. 11, 2018.

Thailand's Election Commission has set March 24 as the date for the country's first general elections since the 2014 military coup that toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Wednesday's decision came hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a royal decree authorizing the vote.

The military government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has repeatedly delayed the general election, which was first tentatively set for 2015. The last tentative date for the general elections had been set for late February, but the junta did not want the elections to clash with early preparations for King Maha Vajiralongkorn's coronation, which is set for early May.

Thailand has been plagued by more than a decade of political chaos since 2006, when Yingluck's older brother, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled by the military after months of protests.

Thaksin, a populist who pushed policies favoring Thailand's rural poor and middle classes, triggered deep political polarization in the kingdom. The policies helped Thaksin and his supporters win several elections, while his "Red Shirt" movement also challenged Bangkok's elite establishment.