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Thai junta steals page from populist playbook ahead of election

Military government turns to cash handouts as nation returns to democracy

BANGKOK -- As Thailand gears up for its first general election since 2014 this coming February, the military junta is adopting the very pork-barrel politics it once derided in the opposition as it angles to ensure a win for a pro-military party.

The junta on Tuesday lifted a four-year-plus ban on political activity, allowing parties to start campaigning. The military had barred such activity, including gatherings of five or more people, since ousting then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a May 2014 coup, and ignored international criticism for detaining alleged violators.

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