New CDC members to be selected before Thai PM heads to UN session

New CDC members to be selected before Thai PM heads to UN session

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that the complete roster for new 21-member Constitution Drafting Committee would be ready by September 22, the day before he leaves to attend a United Nations meeting.

The committee's composition must be completed before his overseas mission to the United States, even though the 30-day period for this ends on October 6, he said.

The UN is hosting its annual General Assembly in New York from September 23-30.

The new charter writers should be well accepted by all parties including politicians, Prayut said. They should also come from diverse backgrounds including legal, as the charter could not be framed without participation from experts in law.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the National Council for Peace and Order had an open mind, but its critics were unlikely to be appointed.

"We don't need to select people who are pleasing to the NCPO. They don't need to agree totally with the NCPO, but we will not choose persons who disagree with the NCPO," he said.

He also explained a remark by Prayut, who is also the NCPO head, that all 21 CDC members must understand the NCPO's intentions. The intentions referred to good governance, national reform and reconciliation, all of which should be included in the new constitution, he said.

The Pheu Thai Party called for public participation in the drafting of the new constitution. It said in a statement that the NCPO should amend the post-coup provisional charter so that members of the public are allowed to take part in the process.

The three-point statement said the NCPO had completely controlled the drafting process.

"The Pheu Thai Party sees that to solve the problem of division and attain reconciliation, all the parties should be allowed to express their views fully," it said.

Pheu Thai also said that instead of relying on the junta-appointed CDC alone, members of the public should be allowed to take part in the process so that the new constitution would be acceptable to all sides.

Prayut dismissed speculation on some potential candidates, saying Amorn Chandarasomboon, former secretary-general of the Council of State, was still ill, and Meechai Ruchupan, former Senate Speaker, had declined the post.

Wissanu said he wanted a legal expert to be the new CDC chairman, as the job required good knowledge of laws, although there are no clear qualifications for the position.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who chaired the now-defunct National Reform Council's political reform committee, said the new CDC members had to be acceptable to all the parties in order to boost the chances for approval of the draft constitution in a national referendum.

Wanlop Tangkananurak, a member of the National Legislative Assembly, said the new constitution writers should come from various groups of people, including legal experts, political scientists, civil-society members, political activists and the two largest political parties - Pheu Thai and Democrat.

Surachai Liengboonlertchai, vice president of the NLA, whose name had been tossed around, said he had not been approached. In his opinion, the drafters should have direct experience in composing previous constitutions.

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