Thai army working on new constitution

New charter seen aimed at preventing ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies from returning to power.

    Thai army working on new constitution
    Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said he hoped new constitution will end decade-long divisions in the country [Reuters]

    Thailand's military government has appointed a panel to draft the country's new constitution in a move seen aimed at preventing ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies from returning to power.

    Nearly six months after the army seized power, a 36-member committee headed by Bavornsak Uwanno, a law academic at the conservative King Prajadhipok Institute who is known to have military sympathies, began work on a new charter.

    The committee must propose a draft within four months, before sending it to the National Reform Council and junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order, for approval. Once approved, the charter will be Thailand's 20th since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

    The committee will likely include a clause that prevents those who were banned from politics in the past from running in future elections.

    - Kan Yuenyong, political analyst

    "My hope is that the new constitution will put a stop to past divisions and that the public will be as involved in its drafting as possible," Thai military leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Tuesday.

    Some political observers say the charter will follow the army's recommendations and include a clause that will prevent banned politicians from running in any future elections.

    This will ensure ousted Shinawatra and his allies, who have won every general election since 2001, can never return to power.

    "The committee will likely include a clause that prevents those who were banned from politics in the past from running in future elections," said Kan Yuenyong, a political analyst at the Siam Intelligence Unit think tank.

    "This could permanently disqualify some Thaksin allies and seriously undermine future efforts by Thaksin to win any general election once the army hands back power."

    The army seized power on May 22 in a bid to restore order after months of political infighting that killed nearly 30 people.

    This would be the second bid to sideline Thaksin and his allies from power, after the constitution was rewritten by a military-backed government following his ouster in 2006. 

    But that failed to block his political machine and just a few years later his sister, Yingluck, won a general election while he was in exile, which he chose in 2008, to escape a two-year jail sentence.

    Yingluck was ordered to step down by a court days before the May coup after she was found guilty of abuse of power.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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