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International relations

ASEAN frets over election disrupting Thailand's bloc chairmanship

Long-awaited vote would break unwritten embargo on chair going to the polls

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s promise to hold a general election next year while Thailand chairs ASEAN carries political risk. (Getty Images)

BANGKOK -- If Thailand goes ahead with a long-postponed general election in 2019, as Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha recently promised, it will break a well-established but unwritten rule within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whereby countries do not stage elections while holding the bloc's annually rotated chairmanship.

Next month, Thailand replaces Singapore as chair of the 10-member regional grouping. Diplomats in Bangkok familiar with ASEAN protocols have been speculating about the effect on the country's international standing if it violates the 50-year-old taboo.

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