Thai leader says 2017 polls can be held without new charter

The leader of Thailand's military government says the country will hold elections as planned in 2017, even if a proposed constitution is rejected beforehand in a national referendum.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the junta that took power after an army coup in May 2014, vowed Tuesday to hold the polls in July 2017 in response to reporters' questions after a weekly Cabinet meeting. The issue was raised earlier this week when the head of the junta's Constitution Drafting Committee said an interim constitution imposed after the coup would continue to be used if the draft charter is rejected in the referendum.

Prayuth declined to comment directly on what constitution would be followed in the event of a negative referendum vote.