PM Prayuth opposes proposal for two-year political sabbatical

PM Prayuth opposes proposal for two-year political sabbatical

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha yesterday voiced his opposition to a proposed two-year exclusion from politics for members of the five junta-appointed organisations in a bid to prevent them from "inheriting power" gained from the coup.

Prayuth argued that if all of them are required to stay away from political office for two years, "there will be nobody to work".

He saw no reason for mistrust of members of the five junta-appointed organisations.

The prime minister, who is also head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said that if the junta really wanted to remain in power after the new charter takes effect, "I will just not return the power."

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said yesterday that he had no problem with the proposed ban. But he added that the prime minister, in his capacity as head of the NCPO leader would have the final say on this matter.

A member of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), Jade Donavanik, had earlier suggested a transitional clause to prohibit members of the NCPO, the CDC, the Cabinet, the National Reform Council and the National Legislative Assembly - also known as the "five rivers" - from holding any political positions for two years after the new constitution comes into effect.

"We will recommend that they are not allowed to enter politics for two years after the new constitution is endorsed. We are afraid about power hogging and conflict of interest," Jade said.

The proposal was raised at yesterday's meeting of the constitution drafters. However, some CDC members expressed their opposition to it, arguing that it was "improper". The meeting later resolved to postpone debate on this matter.

The CDC members are scheduled to discuss the matter at a closed-door meeting today, CDC spokesman Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said.

Pheu Thai Party politician Amnuay Klangpha yesterday backed Jade's proposal, saying the exclusion would prove the sincerity of those involved that they would not get involved with any conflict of interest.

The charter drafters yesterday inserted a temporary provision in the charter that gave the junta 180 days to hold a general election after the new constitution officially comes into effect. It is expected that the general election will be held around April next year.

Article 307 stipulates that the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is expected to deliberate and vote on election-related bills proposed by charter drafters within 60 days.

The charter drafters are expected to propose those bills as soon as possible after the new constitution is officially enforced, which will be around October, hence it is expected that the NLA will pass electoral-related bills around January.

After passing those bills, the NLA is likely to submit those bills to the Constitutional Court, which will have 30 days to approve them.

Article 308 of the temporary provision states that a general election for the lower house of representatives must be held within 90 days after those electoral charter laws had been officially enforced.

The general election is likely to be held in April.

As for the Senate, Article 308 stipulates that their election process must be completed 60 days after lower house MPs had been elected.

The charter drafters yesterday began their first day of deliberations on some 12 temporary provisions.

The CDC members had yesterday completed nine of them and the rest will be completed by today, Kamnoon said. Article 311 is another significant article as it merges the Office of Ombudsman and the Office of National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. It states that the two offices shall be combined under the name "the Office of Ombudsman and Human Rights Protection".

Other articles also state that the Cabinet and the NLA under the junta administration shall remain until the new elected members of both institutions are sworn into office. The NLA shall remain until both the lower and upper house members are elected through a general election next year.

However, Kamnoon said it was still undecided how long the charter drafters and the National Reform Council should continue.

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