Thai government lifts politics bans ahead of polls

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Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Bangkok (AP) — The government on Tuesday lifted a ban on political activities, an action taken in preparation for elections promised for early next year.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha invoked a special executive power with publication in the Royal Gazette of the order easing several restrictions that were set after the army seized power in May 2014.

The order included the lifting of a ban on political gatherings of more than five people that the government has used as one of many measures to suppress opposition.

It also unfreezes the bank accounts of politicians who were targeted for restrictions and allows political parties to begin using funds for campaign purposes in the run-up to polls tentatively scheduled for Feb. 24, among other measures.

The deputy chief of Thailand’s Election Commission said Tuesday that the body had voted in favor of a Feb. 24 election date, but that an official announcement would have to be made later.