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Thailand’s Junta Reveals Interim Charter With Amnesty Granted to Themselves



Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha (3rd L) addresses a news conference at Army Headquarters in Bangkok


BANGKOK – The National Council for Peace and Order (NPCO) have revealed their plans for the interim charter that, if approved this week, will build steps to creating a new permanent constitution by next year and also grant amnesty for members involved in seizing power from the caretaker government in May. The NPCO will also retain special powers in regards to peacekeeping and security, which can be invoked to combat “threatening influences”.

The interim charter will have no more than 50 articles, with some extra provisions that are decided on by the NPCO. It has been announced that the interim charter will only come into effect after it has been received royal approval expected this month, which will place the charter as one of the highest laws of the land, and will be used to appoint a non-elected MP or government official as prime minister.
The Charter will create the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), which consists of 200 members that will draft laws and select the new prime minister. The National Reform Council (NRC) will also be formed with 250 members, consisting of one representative of each province (77) and the remainder made up of people working in various sectors who will be selected by the NPCO. These two bodies will then join with the Cabinet and the NPCO to form the Charter Drafting Committee (CDC) who will draft the first permanent constitution that will then seek approval from the NRC.

The permanent constitution will not be put to a referendum, unlike the 2007 charter, as the NPCO fear rejectment, which they explained would only extend the time taken to finalise the charter and return to elections. The NPCO have made clear that they will still retain their powers, equal to or greater than the powers of the interim government, which is common practice in post Coup governments.

The current judges of the Constitutional Court are also said to remain in their position but to focus solely on constitutionality and legislation. The House of Representatives have also announced they are already preparing parliament office buildings to accommodate members of the NLA and NRC.

Another key aspect of the new interim charter is that the NPCO have granted themselves amnesty to all members who were involved in the seizure of power from the caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22, 2014. Amnesty will extend to anyone who followed NPCO orders, such as army commanders or the police.

The chief of the NPCO, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha explained on his weekly televised address, that the whole process is predicted to take around nine months to complete; two months to shape the NRC who will begin working from October and a permanent constitution predicted to be in effect by July 2015, after seeking royal approval. He also said that once this process is completed, the interim government will spend three months preparing for an election. – CityNews

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