Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dissolved parliament on Monday ahead of an election possibly in the first half of May.

The move came before the four-year terms of House of Representatives members expire on Thursday, with Prayut having said a dissolution will give more time for all parties to prepare. Thailand's Election Commission is required to set the election date within five days of a lower house dissolution.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks to reporters at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 20, 2023. (AP/Kyodo)

Prayut, who has led Thailand for nearly nine years, announced in January that he would seek another term as prime minister with the United Thai Nation Party, a group formed by veteran politicians which he joined that month.

Prayut staged a coup to topple the civilian government in May 2014 when he was the army chief and subsequently became interim prime minister of a military-run government. He returned to power under a civilian government after the 2019 election, when he belonged to the Palang Pracharath Party, the current ruling party.

But even if he is re-elected as prime minister, his term will be limited to two years under the country's constitutionally mandated eight-year term limit. The Constitutional Court has ruled that this should be counted from April 2017, when the current Constitution was promulgated.

In the 2019 election, the Pheu Thai Party, known as the political vehicle of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won the most number of seats followed by Palang Pracharath.

But Palang Pracharath was able to form a coalition government with allies, leaving the Pheu Thai Party in opposition.

For the May election, Thaksin's youngest daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, has been leading the campaign for the Pheu Thai Party in key regional provinces but it remains unclear whether she will be named as a candidate for prime minister.