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Provisional Charter

No decision yet on referendum to endorse Constitution

IT WILL be decided at a later stage whether the permanent charter to be drafted by the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) will be put to a national referendum.

Wissanu Krea-Ngam, a legal adviser to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), told a press conference yesterday that nowhere in the provisional charter was there any mention of a plebiscite one way or another, so the matter would be left to a later time.

However, holding one would likely add four to six months to the process of promulgating a charter, and that means the unelected government might have to hang on longer, he said.

Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, another legal adviser for the NCPO who was at the same press conference, praised the provisional charter, saying it marked Thailand's return to the "rule of law" and provided the country with a clear path towards restoring democracy.

The NCPO, which will co-exist with the interim cabinet, will be allowed to have no more than 15 members, he said.

Wissanu said it was clear now that Thailand was entering Phase 2 of the NCPO's roadmap. The provisional charter will be in effect for about a year or so until a permanent version is introduced and a general election held.

The CDA will have four months to prepare the permanent charter under a time frame fixed by the junta.

"It's believed that within this one-year period, many problems should be solved. At least to a certain level," he said.

However, this explains why there is a need for "special powers" to remain in the hands of the junta leader under Article 44 of the provisional constitution, which states that the junta's orders are binding and effectively equal to laws.

The unelected National Legislative Assembly would function as both the upper and lower houses of Parliament, with 220 members representing all provinces and many professional circles in society. The NCPO will have the final say in picking them.

The NLA will scrutinise the work of the government but it cannot launch a censure debate against it.

The cabinet will also be given a special mandate to foster national reconciliation.

As for the National Reform Council, individuals cannot nominate themselves. They must be the candidates of associations, organisations or even Buddhist temples or other religious organisations. The NCPO will select the 250 members to sit on the council.

The CDA will have 36 members, with its chairman appointed by the NCPO.

No agreement has been reached on when martial will be lifted. That decision should be made jointly by the government and the NCPO, Wissanu said.




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