Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai Party has finished its drafting on the charter amendment and will submit the draft for consideration of the government whip on Monday, said the party spokesman Prompong Nopparit on Sunday.Mr Prompong said the draft proposed the amendment of Constitution, Article 291, to allow the establishment of a 99-member constitutional drafting assembly.The spokesman said the government whip committee will consider the draft on Monday, then return the final draft to each coalition party for their endorsement before proposing it to the House of representative.

“If a concluding agreement between Pheu Thai Party and the coalition is reached, the draft is expected to be proposed to parliament next week,” stated Mr Prompong.

“The move is to fulfill a promise that the Pheu Thai Party made during its election campaign last year.”

Government whip chairman Udomdej Ratanasatien said that after the Monday meeting, each coalition party will send a list of names of MPs who agree to endorse the charter amendment draft back to the whip on Wednesday, 8-February.The whip chairman expressed confidence that the coalition will be able to submit the draft to parliament by Feb 10, as until now no party has shown different views on the move.

Mr Udomdej elaborated that the draft which proposes an amendment to Article 291 seeking to form the constitutional drafting assembly consisting of 77 members elected by voters in each province of Thailand and another 22 academics and experts in required fields selected by the Parliament.The government whip chairman added that the content of the charter amendment depends upon the consideration of the drafting assembly. (MCOT online news)

Thailand’s current constitution was promulgated in 2007, replacing an interim constitution promulgated in 2006 after an army-led coup. The 2007 Constitution was written by a junta-appointed group of drafters, but was approved by a public referendum. Prior to the referendum, the junta passed a law making it illegal to publicly criticize the draft. Controversial features in the constitution included a partly appointed Senate and amnesty for the leaders of the 2006 coup.

The 1997 Constitution, often called the “People’s Constitution,” was considered a landmark in terms of the degree of public participation involved in its drafting as well as the democratic nature of its articles. It stipulated a bicameral legislature, both houses of which were elected. Many human rights were explicitly acknowledged for the first time, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments.

The 2007 Constitution re-affirms the central of role of the monarchy in the constitutional process. As it now stands, the Constitution-the eighteenth – which was put to a national referendum on 19 August 2007, and was approved by a margin, reads a little better than an earlier draft of this Constitution.

It shies away from the idea of a totally selected (appointed) Senate by opting instead for a mixture of selected (seventy four in number) and elected (seventy six in number) Senate, partly to appease those who feel that a totally selected body would simply not be credible. The earlier proposal to include the possibility of setting up a National Crisis Council, which would have provided even more elbow room to the military to administer the country in times of so-called national crisis, has also been omitted from the current draft.

Pheu Thai expects to propose charter amendment draft to parliament next week

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