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Thailand constitution: Military's council rejects draft


Thailand constitution: Military's council rejects draft

... BBC:

A council appointed by Thailand's military rulers has rejected a controversial new constitution drafted after last year's coup.

A new committee must now be appointed to write another draft, further setting back elections.

The draft has been widely criticised, in particular a clause which enables a 23-member panel to take over government during a "national crisis".

The army ousted the elected government after months of political unrest.

The 247-member National Reform Council rejected the draft charter by 135 votes to 105, with seven abstentions.

Correspondents say that it met strong opposition on practically all sides of the political divide.

Another committee will have 180 days to write a new one, which will later be put to a nationwide referendum.

Analysis: By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok

Many commentators had assumed that a council chosen by the military government would automatically approve a constitution backed by the same government. That didn't happen. Despite talk of heavy last-minute lobbying, the National Reform Council voted against the charter by a clear majority.

But the outcome will be of little comfort to the charter's many critics. They had pointed to the effective legalisation of future military intervention, and the weakening of political parties and elected governments, as proof that the draft was undemocratic.

But its rejection will now extend military rule for at least another six months while another constitution is written, with no guarantee that will be passed - and even if it is, it may then be voted down in a required national referendum.

The timetable for a return to democratic government in Thailand is being extended, with no clear end in sight.

Until a new constitution can be drafted, the military government retains its substantial powers.

It had said elections could take place in late 2016, but analysts say the delay means 2017 is more likely.

Critics of the draft constitution say it would erode the power of political parties in favour of the army and prevent a genuine democracy from being established.

Thai soldiers stand guard ahead of the National Reform Council (NRC) vote for the draft of the new constitution at Parliament in Bangkok (06 September 2015)

hailand has seen numerous different constitutions since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

For years the kingdom has been divided between pro-democracy parties that support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and an alliance of conservatives, including members of the military, the judiciary and royalists.

Mr Thaksin's allies have prevailed in every election since 2001, but have faced two coups and the removal of three prime ministers by the courts.


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