Thailand approves referendum on new constitution
Thailand’s military government has approved the holding of a referendum on the country’s newly drafted constitution, thereby delaying general elections.
“The cabinet agrees that there should be changes to the current constitution in order to hold a public referendum,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Tuesday.
Praut, who came to power in a military coup last May, added that general elections, scheduled for February 2016, would likely be pushed back as a result of the referendum.
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the elections “will take place around August or in September.”
Thailand’s opposition leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned that the new constitution would block a restoration of democracy in the Southeast Asian country.
Critics say the new constitution is aimed at excluding the powerful Shinawatra family from politics as well.
Shinawatras and their allies had won every Thai election since 2001. The army seized power last year, removing then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra following months of anti-government protests and a disputed election in the country.
Yingluck, the first female premier of Thailand, was removed for assigning a family member to a senior government post. She has also been indicted for her involvement in a controversial rice subsidy scheme.