Former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the restoration of democracy, saying extended military rule will isolate the country and make it a pariah state.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Thaksin ripped into the draft constitution presented by the ruling junta ahead of the election, saying it is aimed at keeping the generals in power indefinitely.
The populist leader, who was ousted by the military in 2006, said the new draft constitution is a charade to show the world that Thailand is returning to democracy.
"But in reality it would be like Myanmar before its political reforms. There would be a prime minister, but the real power would be in some politburo above him and the economy would suffer. No other government would want to touch Thailand," Thaksin said.
Thailand's Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said earlier this month a general election will be held in 2017 even if the draft Constitution is not approved in a referendum this year.
The opposition had lambasted the government for releasing a new draft constitution to be passed before the elections are held, saying it was a tactic to delay elections further.
Prayuth came to power in May 2014 following a military coup that ousted the caretaker government of the democratically elected prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister.
Thaksin, who has been exile since 2008, has remained a popular figure in Thailan, and has called for uprisings against the military junta in the past. The 2010 mass protests calling for elections had resulted in the death of about 100 protesters across the country.
The business tycoon asked Prayuth to hold talks with the opposition to resolve the stalemate.
"Please don't be paranoid. Please don't fear that I'll come looking for revenge. I'm not looking for any conditions to help myself. But if you have a real intention to move the country forward, if you intend to return dignity to the Thai people, then please come to talk," he said.