Thailand's junta chief yesterday ruled out elections for at least a year to allow time for political "reforms", and defended the recent military coup in the face of rising international alarm.
In a televised national address more than a week after the army takeover, Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the new military regime planned to work towards returning the nation of 67 million people to democracy in around 15 months.
The general, who was given crucial royal endorsement on Monday, said a first phase of around three months would focus on "reconciliation" in the ferociously divided nation.
A cabinet and new draft constitution would then be put in place to enact reforms during a second year-long phase. Only after this could elections be held.
Thailand's military seized power on May 22 -- the 19th actual or attempted putsch in its modern history -- and set about rounding up scores of political figures, academics and activists.
Authorities have abrogated the constitution, curtailed civil liberties under martial law and imposed a nightly curfew.
Prayut noted the international alarm over the coup, but said the country needed time to find a "righteous and legitimate" path for the country's democracy.
On Thursday, the United States reiterated a call for a swift return to democratic rule. The European Union voiced "extreme concern".
Around 300 people have now been held for periods of up to seven days.