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Turbulent Thailand

Thai youth growl as election confusion disrupts exams

Adults in charge are 'irresponsible,' high schoolers say on social media

Thai students and activists demand the long-awaited general election be held Feb. 24 as the government considers a delay.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thai students are denouncing the "irresponsible" adults leading the country as ambiguity over the coming election leaves the timing of nationwide university entrance exams in doubt.

"Quit treating the election like a toy," one student awaiting the tests wrote on social media.

Pro-junta candidates face the prospect of a rebuke at the polls from both exam-takers, who can vote from age 18, and their parents should the government bungle its response.

After the provisional date of Feb. 24 was set last year for the long-awaited general election, the government decided in early November to move a pair of compulsory aptitude tests scheduled for Feb. 23-26 to a week earlier, suddenly cutting short students' prep time.

Then, shortly after the New Year, the possibility emerged of a fresh delay to the election. Social media buzzed with calls to restore the original exam schedule.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, writing on his Twitter page last week, asked students to wait patiently for the Election Commission to set a final date, while the Ministry of Education has signaled it will wait and respond to further changes.

The junta and the Election Commission both seek to pin the blame for the possible delay on each other, each denying they were the ones to propose a postponement. As a result, the delay itself remains unconfirmed, leaving the exams' date unclear.

The question of whether to delay the election arose after the coronation ceremony for King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun was decided to be held in early May. Holding the vote on Feb. 24 would mean proceedings related to the coronation could fall while parliament was in session, while delaying the election until late March would put the proceedings during the interim period when the results are tallied.

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