Thai military chief urges loyalty ahead of expected election

A Buddhist monk splashes holy water to Thai soldiers during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday,

A Buddhist monk splashes holy water to Thai soldiers during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday,

Thai army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong delivers a speech during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Fri

Thai army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong delivers a speech during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Fri

Thai army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong reviews the guard of honor during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thai

Thai army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong reviews the guard of honor during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thai

In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, file photo, a Buddhist monk splashes holy water on to Thai soldiers during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at

In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, file photo, a Buddhist monk splashes holy water on to Thai soldiers during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

Thai soldiers parade during the Royal Thai Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's military has held its annual Armed Forces Day parade as the country prepares for expected elections more than four years after soldiers overthrew an elected government.

Army Commander in Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, who presided over Friday's ceremony, declined last October to rule out future army interventions in Thai political life, raising a storm of controversy.

But his speech to soldiers on Friday steered clear of politics, making instead routine exhortations of loyalty to the king and the country.

With elections expected shortly, political temperatures are rising, and pro-democracy activists have been demonstrating to pressure the government not to backslide on its promise to hold polls.

Apirat earlier this week warned them not to step over the line of acceptable dissent.