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Thai Junta Will Hand Power Back to Civilian Government in 2017

A year and a half after overthrowing Thailand's civilian government, the country's military junta has vowed to return power to a newly elected civilian government in 2017.

The announcement came on Wednesday during a speech from junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, orchestrator of the May 2014 coup, reports Reuters.

“We have one year and six months left starting January 2016 to July 2017, and the government will lay the foundations for the things it did not do, and if it cannot complete them they will be put in the reform plan,” Chan-ocha said in a televised speech.

“We are entering phase two now.”

The National Council for Peace and Order, as the junta call themselves, has spent the last 18 months drafting a new constitution and introducing reforms since ousting former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. While the military junta insists that a staggering 99% of Thai citizens are happy with its rule, according to the Guardian, some believe these reforms are meant to limit the power of political parties within the Thai government, as well as suppress those once loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother, who was removed from power in 2006.

As the junta continues to delay elections in Thailand, insisting the country is not yet ready for civilian governance, Thai citizens are growing impatient. The most recent coup – number 12 since 1932 – has put a strain on Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, resulting in record-high household debt. Chan-ocha's heavy-handed security measures are not particularly helpful either, as the junta is able to make arrests without court warrants and can be held without charge.

So naturally, to quell these frustrations, Chan-ocha has done what any junta leader would do to boost national morale: write a tune. That's right; it turns out the current head of Thailand's military government dabbles in song, a useful talent for any coup runner.

[Photo via The Guardian

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