Thailand sets date for referendum on draft constitution

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Bangkok, April 18 (IANS) The election commission of Thailand on Monday set August 7 as the date for the referendum on the draft constitution, which recently attracted criticism from politicians and scholars.

Boonkiat Rakchartcharoen, the acting secretary-general of the commission said they have also prepared various regulations for the referendum, including rules on voting and criteria for expression of opinions, Bangkok Post reported.

An additional and controversial question was proposed in the referendum by the national legislative assembly, being whether senators handpicked by the junta should be empowered to vote a new prime minister together with elected members of the parliament.

The draft, especially this question, is facing criticism from two major political parties, namely the Pheu Thai Party the Democrat Party, and also scholars of universities.

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Watana Muangsook, core member of Pheu Thai Party, posted a status on Facebook just before he departed on Monday to report to the junta for “attitude adjustment”, saying that the current draft constitution has an undemocratic nature, and he will never accept it.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader and the former premier, said last week that his party rejected the idea to empower a selected senate to choose a new prime minister, adding that his party would not collaborate with Pheu Thai Party in this issue.

An academic group led by Anusorn Unno, dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology of Thammasat University on Sunday said the draft allowed a non-elected prime minister to win office and a selected senate, thus depriving people of their political rights.

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who came into power after the 2014 coup, said last week that an appointed senate might help to ensure the people a best leader.

“People have chosen their prime ministers, and look what happened,” Prayut said last week. “Some of them have even been prosecuted.”

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