BANGKOK – Thailandâ€™s ruling junta has proposed that military commanders should automatically be members of an unelected senate â€” and insist that the arrangement does not constitute another coup dâ€™Ã©tat.
The National Council for Peace and Order on Tuesday proposed that the new charter should include a provision that would mean that the countryâ€™s five top military generals and the police chief would be ex-officio members of the upper house, Thai PBS reports. The rest of the members of a 250-member senate would be appointed by a selection committee.
According to the Bangkok Post, junta member General Prawit Wonsuwan said the military chiefs would even help prevent a future coup.
â€œMPs can explain to those military commanders about the administration of their parties,â€ Prawit said. â€œWe want to do this for only a period of five years, for the most effective and transparent transition and for our future.â€
General Prayut has kept a firm lid on free speech since the coup, barring protests, debates and academic seminars that touch on sensitive political issues including the new charter.
The junta leader has promised to hold elections in mid-2017, though he has not specified what will happen if the constitution is rejected the Rappler reports.
The referendum date came as Prayut congratulated neighbouring Myanmar on the historic election of its first civilian leader in more than half a century.
“Thai-Myanmar relations are always good regardless of a civilian or military government,” he added.
For decades Myanmar was considered the more authoritarian of the two.
But with its creaking economy and repressive military rulers, Thailand has now been dubbed by some as the new “sick man” of Southeast Asia.