July 2017 election to go forward if draft rejected: PM

national January 27, 2016 01:00


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PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday there would still be an election by July 2017 in line with the junta government’s “6-4-6-4 roadmap” even if the draft charter is rejected in a referendum.

The premier however refused to elaborate on plans to handle possible scenarios if the draft fails to pass.
“I’ve already thought of a solution,” he said. “But I will talk about it [if] the draft is really turned down,”
“Some of the charter would be used [to conduct a general election] if the new draft is rejected,” the premier said. 
Such a charter would contain only one to three articles pertaining to how the election would be held, human rights and democracy, he said. However, he added that additional legislation could be written in line with the government’s reform initiatives on specific issues.
Asked whether that charter would reflect the 2014 interim charter that is currently in force – a possibility mentioned by Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan on Monday – the premier only replied “I’ll sort it out on my own”,
The government’s legal team will take care of any amendments to the interim charter to enable the election to be held, Prayut said
He added that he regularly receives reports about the details of the draft from the CDC, but he refused to comment saying now was not the time to do so.
Addressing security issues and possible political unrest prior to a general election, the prime minister said he would not use force against fellow Thais.
“I will let things be, if people still want to be in a cave and if they still [want to] fight against each other. Be prepared for a failed state,” he said.
For the sake of the country, Prayut added, he was also willing to face the consequences because of his use of the interim charter’s Article 44, which granted him absolute power since the risk despite the risk that such powers meant that he must take final responsibility.
“Did I bear [the consequences from] Article 44 for my own [benefit]? If not for the country, then what else?” the premier asked rhetorically.
Government spokesperson Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said plans in case the draft was rejected needed to remain behind closed doors at present to avoid criticism and clashes between political blocs. 
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said he could not see how the current interim charter could become permanent given its temporary status. “Meechai might [have had] something sarcastic about this,” he said.
CDC commissioners yesterday refuted Meechai’s earlier statement, which claimed that the interim charter would be all that remained if the new draft failed to pass in a referendum.
Commissioners Chartchai Na Chiangmai and Norachit Sinhaseni said yesterday that Meechai had only been talking according to his own principles. They added that if the new charter does not go into effect, the interim charter will retain its authority but that did not mean it would remain in perpetuity.
The CDC is scheduled to release its draft on Friday. Norachit added that the CDC would meet with the media after the release and respond to any inquiries.

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