The Latest: Ousted Thai party confident of election win

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BANGKOK (AP) – The Latest on Thailand’s general election (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

The leader of the Pheu Thai political party that was ousted as Thailand’s government in a 2014 military coup says she’s confident of winning Sunday’s election.

Speaking to reporters after voting in Bangkok, Sudarat Keyuraphan said: “I don’t say it’ll be a landslide. I don’t know. Depend on the people. But I think we can win this election.”

Thais are voting for a 500-member parliament that along with a 250-member junta appointed Senate will decide the country’s next prime minister.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the 2014 coup, is hoping to stay in power through a military-backed political party and measures that dilute the influence of other political parties.

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9:10 a.m.

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has issued a statement as Thais vote in their first election since a 2014 coup that says the role of leaders is to stop “bad people” from gaining power and causing chaos.

Invoking a speech by his father, the previous Thai king who died in 2016 after reigning for seven decades, Vajiralongkorn said not all citizens can be transformed into good people so leaders must be given support in ruling to create a peaceful nation.

He urged government officials, soldiers and civil servants to look after national security.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the 2014 coup, is hoping to extend his hold on power after engineering a new political system that aims to stifle the influence of big political parties not aligned with the military.

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8 a.m.

Voting is underway in Thailand’s first election since the military ousted an elected government in a 2014 coup.

Prime Minister Prayuth Cha-cha, the army chief who led the coup, is hoping to extend his time in power after engineering a new political system that aims to stifle the influence of big political parties not aligned with the military.

About 51 million Thais are eligible to vote Sunday. Leaders of civilian political parties have urged a high turnout as the only way to derail Prayuth’s plans.

The election is the latest chapter in a nearly two-decade struggle between conservative forces including the military and the political machine of Thaksin Shinawatra, a tycoon who upended tradition-bound Thailand’s politics with a populist political revolution.

A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, March 24, 2019, during Thailand’s first general election since the military seized power in a 2014 coup. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
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