Thailand’s army-backed legislature rejects draft charter
The draft of Thailand’s new constitution has failed to obtain the consent of the country’s military-backed legislature, one year after a violent coup shook the country.
One hundred and thirty-five members of the National Reform Council (NRC), appointed by the junta, voted against the charter, while 105 voted in favor with seven abstentions.
The new constitution needed 124 votes to pass and be put to referendum, which had been scheduled for early January.
Following the rejection, a new 21-member drafting committee will be appointed to write a new charter within 180 days, which again must be approved by the legislature and go to a referendum.
Since the process would take up to six months, the election would be consequently delayed until 2017.
One of the most controversial provisions in the draft charter was the presence of a 23-member panel, with military members, which would be able to take over from the parliament and prime minister in times of vaguely defined “national crisis.”
Thailand is currently ruled by the junta, which seized power on May 22, 2014, following months of anti-government protests and violence in the country. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister of Thailand, who took control of the country then, vowed last year to end the conflict by this year.
The junta is apparently trying to make it impossible for former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in 2006, to make a political comeback under any charter. Thailand has been experiencing turmoil ever since supporters and opponents of Thaksin have been struggling for power at the elections and on the streets.
The military ousted Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as prime minister last year and abolished an earlier constitution.
The junta later chose the drafters and the 247-member National Reform Council to help prepare a new constitution.