Thai army promises elections in October 2015

Army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok. 13 June 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says democracy will only return after reforms are put in place

Thailand's military leader has promised a return to democracy but says elections will only take place after October 2015.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a speech that an interim constitution would be adopted next month.

A temporary cabinet would then govern until elections next year.

The military seized power on 22 May, saying it wanted to return stability to Thailand after months of political and social unrest.

Since then, the country has been run by a military junta called the National Council for Peace and Order. It insists it is a neutral player among the country's rival political factions.

Gen Prayuth, who led the coup, said any new election would have to take place under a new constitution, which would be drafted by an appointed body.

"We want to see an election that will take place under the new constitution... that will be free and fair, so that it can become a solid foundation for a complete Thai democracy," he said in a televised address.

"Today, if we go ahead and hold a general election, it will lead to a situation that creates conflict and the country will return to the old cycle of conflict, violence, corruption by influential groups in politics, terrorism and the use of war weapons" he added.

Hundreds detained

Gen Prayuth also denied reports that the coup was planned in advance with anti-government protest leaders.

"I did not join any process or take part with any side", he said.

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Media captionLt Gen Chatchalerm Chalermsukh: "The military belongs to all Thai people, not just one group"

The denial came after reports that protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said that he had discussed overthrowing the government with Gen Prayuth many times in recent years.

Gen Prayuth and the army took over two weeks after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from her role by a controversial court ruling.

It followed months of anti-government protests in which dozens of people were killed.

The army has imposed martial law and suspended the constitution after taking over.

Since the coup, hundreds of people have also been detained in an apparent crackdown on dissent by the military. The army insists the prisoners are being treated well.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The army prevents gatherings of protesters in the capital, Bangkok

Supporters of the coup allege that Ms Yingluck's government was controlled by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was prime minister until his removal by the military in 2006.

Thaksin was later convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile.

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