The people and not the politicians have the right to decide whether the current government should relinquish power or postpone the general election, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.
He was responding to a proposal by a group of politicians from both camps who said they did not mind the general election being postponed provided they got a democratic charter.
Prayut questioned the rights of politicians in this matter.
"What right do the politicians have to say that I can stay on or not. What does the charter say?" he asked. "This depends on the people, who are the country's owners."
He said if the people wanted him to continue in his post, they must find a legitimate way for him to do so. "This is the question for everyone in the country - they cannot pass the buck onto me," he said.
"If they want the country to continue as it has been, then have a general election as you want and I will step down. If they want me to continue in my post, they have to help me find the way [to achieve that]."
Asked if the government would continue with its roadmap schedule towards democracy, Prayut said he did not want to be blamed for not keeping his promise. "I don't want you to say I did not keep my word for the roadmap," he said.
Prayut opposed a proposal to copy the United State's version of democracy that stressed the decentralisation of power, citing the differences in the size of the two countries and their education models.
He said Thailand was not ready to follow the US' democratic lead because it may lead to conflict.
He believed the country's current decentralisation of power structure and format was good enough but our local administration bodies must improve their quality.
"If we have to restructure the system, how would people benefit, where do we get the money to do it?" he said.
"We have so many problems already with our decentralisation. Let the people decide if they want it."
Prayut took the press to task for criticising his government as dictatorial. "Do not criticise my government like other governments. I am trying to solve the country's problems," he said.
"What's wrong with you in the media? Or am I being too nice?''
He said it was up to the public to decide whether they wanted to have a public referendum on the new charter because this was not stated in the interim charter.