Thailand’s army chief has pledged not to stage a coup, as political parties geared up for final campaign rallies on Friday ahead of an election that could see the military-backed government voted out. General Narongpan Jitkaewthae made the pledge despite the army seizing power a dozen times in Thailand in the past century, most recently in 2014. Voters are predicted to deliver a heavy defeat to the government of former army chief and coup leader Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, fuelling fears the military may actually seek to cling on to power. But Narongpan told reporters on Thursday there would be no return to military rule, saying that the coups of the past were “very negative”. “There shouldn’t be (a coup) any more. For me, this word should be deleted from the dictionary,” he said. Sunday’s election is a clash between the opposition led by Pheu Thai, fronted by the 36-year-old daughter of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and the older conservative royalist-military establishment embodied by Prayut. Pheu Thai is well ahead in the polls, but winning most seats in the lower house is no guarantee of taking power. The prime minister will be chosen by the 500 elected MPs and 250-strong senate — whose members were appointed by Prayut’s junta, stacking the deck in favour of army-linked parties.