BANGKOK – A Spokesperson for the 36-person committee, drafting of a new constitution has reported that Thailand’s New 200-Member Senate will be nominated and not directly elected by voters, said a committee appointed by the country’s military rulers, while critics called it a setback for Thai democracy.
The new senators will be chosen from pools of candidates, including former premiers, ex-military leaders and representatives from different professions, Lertrat Ratanavanich, the committee spokesman, told reporters Wednesday. They can only serve one six-year term.
Drafting of a new constitution is being carried out by the 36-person committee hand-picked by Gen.Prayut Chan-o-cha ‘s Military Junta after it overthrew a civilian government and abolished the last charter in last May’s coup.
Under the last constitution, half of the 150-member Senate was directly elected and the rest appointed.
Once finished, the constitutional draft will be reviewed by the military-appointed National Reform Council, the Cabinet and the junta leaders.
Analysts said Thursday the action was designed to limit the power of elected politicians in the parliament, following years of landslide electoral triumph by political parties that were allied with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.
The power struggle between the military-backed upper and middle-class and Thaksin’s pro-democracy supporters has fueled the political conflict in Thailand that have often turned violent in the past decade.
Thaksin’s sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, led her Pheu Thai Party to a landslide victory in 2011.
“There’s a likelihood that the Pheu Thai Party will win again once there’s an election, so they are designing the constitution to do whatever it takes to limit the power in parliament of the elected politicians,” said Kan Yeunyong, executive director of Bangkok-based think tank Siam Intelligence Unit.
The constitutional drafters are scheduled to finish in April.