BANGKOK, Thailand Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has finally admitted his interest in politics, ending months of media speculation about his political ambition as the country gears up for the long-awaited elections next year.

He cited his love for the country as the reason behind his decision to join the political fray.

"Many people wanted me to answer about (my future) in politics. I can answer now that I am interested in politics," he told the media at the Government House Monday, adding that he would inform the public about other decisions including whom he will support later.

Prayut, who also headed the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), said he would listen to the views from political parties, political groups and politicians.

He is expected to announce which political party he will join, as many in Thailand speculate that he will stay on the job as the prime minister as the candidate of a political party after next year's elections.

Four years ago, Prayut, who was then the country's army chief, led the military in staging a coup, toppling the then civilian government headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Both the Shinawatra siblings are currently living in exile.

Recently, the government cleared the final hurdle concerning the holding of a general election by passing two organic laws regarding the election of MPs and senators.

The government also took steps in easing the ban on political activities but stopped short of totally lifting it.

The first general election in Thailand after four years of military rule could be held in February 2019 at the earliest, according to political pundits and analysts.

Source: NAM News Network