First and foremost, the emphasis is on establishing and maintaining peace and order. Phase 2 involves the drafting of an interim constitution while a government is set up in tandem with the reform council. The final phase involves a general election and a return to democratic rule.
The NCPO has now managed the country for a number of weeks, giving observers a reasonable length of time to judge its efforts so far. Some are satisfied, while others want to see better results, particularly on the economic front.
A lack of clarity is palpable, especially in relation to Phase 2 of the roadmap. How will a temporary charter look while there are still no elections on the horizon? Thais also wonder how the country will be administered during the interim and how both the reform and national legislative assemblies will function.
It seems likely that a degree of normality will soon return to the political landscape. A prime minister will head the interim government. But who will be chosen as the new PM and who will be in his or her cabinet?
Many will be watching to see if there is a power struggle between the new prime minister and General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the NCPO. What is certain, however, is that the new person in charge must really enjoy the trust of General Prayuth.
As for the national legislative assembly, it is yet to be seen which model the NCPO will adopt. Thailand has had five such assemblies in the past, the first set up during the era of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn in 1972. There were 299 members of the legislative assembly at that time.
The second time Thailand had a legislative council was after the October 1973 uprising. At that time, 2,347 people were appointed to select 299 among themselves as legislative assembly members.
This grouping also acted as the charter-drafting assembly.
The third legislative assembly was created in 1977 after the October 6, 1976, coup led by Admiral Sa-ngad Chaloryu. There were 360 members in that assembly.
The fourth assembly was formed in 1991 after another coup, and there were 299 members. The fifth and the latest national legislative assembly was appointed by the Council for National Security after the coup in 2006 and had 242 members.
Later assemblies tended to have greater representation from professional sectors, but the number has varied. In 1976 the number was set at 300 to 400 members.
In 1991 it was 200 to 300 members, while the assembly in 2006 was set at 250.
It is also yet to be seen if the newest legislative assembly will also play a role in drafting the new constitution, which is highly likely. If it does not draft the charter itself, it will almost certainly indirectly influence it.
We must see what the reform assembly will look like, too. There were many models adopted in the past, including one where coup-makers introduce 10 of their members to join the charter-drafting assembly.
All these scenarios suggest that nothing is set in stone and the situation will need to be tailored to suit. We’ll just need to see if they can be tailored to suit the needs of modern Thailand.