Thailand’s military government has said political parties are free to start campaigning ahead of a long-awaited election scheduled for February 24 next year.

The announcement ends a ban on political campaigning brought in when the military ousted the elected government in a coup four years ago.

The military has always insisted it intends to restore democracy in Thailand. But the election date has been pushed back repeatedly.

The military took power in Thailand in 2014, overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the hugely popular Pheu Thai party.

Military leaders said at the time they were restoring order after months of political unrest which had at times turned violent.

They later drew up a new constitution and changes to the electoral system, which were approved by the public in a referendum in 2017.

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