Election Commission sets up panel to study next move on charter change
The Election Commission has formed a panel to work with PM's Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn in preparing for a referendum vote on charter change.The panel will be led by EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong.
At the government's request, Varathep and the panel would jointly clarify and resolve all legal issues in connection with organising the referendum.
Varathep said the ruling Pheu Thai Party was expected on Saturday to convene a meeting to finalise its stand on a referendum.
The party's ruling would then become the basis for activating the subsequent preparations, he said.
Varathep said at this juncture it was still uncertain what the next move on charter change would be.
Options would include organising the referendum vote before the final passage of the charter amendment bill, bypassing the referendum, and changing track to amend the charter provision by provision instead of overhauling the entire charter.
Pheu Thai MP Paijit Sreewarakan said his colleagues from the Northeast had not finalised their collective decision on how to amend the charter.
Paijit urged the government to defer the push for charter change if there was no consensus on the matter.
Should the government push for the final vote on the charter amendment bill, this might risk a defeat because of the lack of Senate support, he said.
Government MPs had their doubts on a referendum as well as for provision-by-provision amendments, he said.
In regard to the risk associated with a referendum vote, MPs were uncertain that the government could muster the 24 million votes needed, he said.
As for the provision-by-provision amendments, this might trigger a new round of political turbulence due to the debate on contentious issues, such as Article 309 of the Constitution.
Government supporters see the provision as a legacy for the 2006 coup, while its opponents suspect the rewriting would pave the way for amnesty for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.