BANGKOK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - A general election will take place in Thailand next year as planned by the ruling junta, local media reported on Monday, while Thais grieved over the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died last week after seven decades on the throne.
The death of King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, had raised questions over whether a return to civilian rule could be delayed and elections planned for 2017 might be pushed back by the military-led government.
Thailand has begun a year of mourning for King Bhumibol, whose death at the age of 88 was announced by the palace on Thursday.
The cabinet has asked that “festivities” be avoided for the next 30 days and people have been asked to wear black during this period.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Monday that the monarch’s death had not affected plans for a general election next year.
“The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year,” the paper said.
Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, a spokesman for the military government declined to comment on the matter.
“This is not the time to discuss politics,” he told Reuters.
King Bhumibol earned the devotion of Thais for his efforts to help the rural poor, including agricultural development projects. He was also seen as a stabilising figure in a country often wracked by political turmoil.
The military-led government has assured Thais following the king’s death that the economy and government will work as normal.
“Everything will proceed according to the roadmap,” Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said in an interview broadcast on state television on Friday.
The head of Thailand’s royal advisory council will stand in as regent while the country grieves over King Bhumibol’s death and awaits his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, to formally succeed him.
The government has heightened censorship of foreign media since the king passed away. Coverage on Thailand by the BBC was repeatedly blocked over the weekend.
Thailand’s foreign ministry in a note on the weekend criticised foreign media coverage of the king’s death and the mourning period saying reports by some media were of “a manipulative and provocative nature”. (Additional reporting by Andrew R.C. Marshall; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by John Chalmers and Simon Cameron-Moore)