Thai voters may soon impeach politicians

Thai voters may soon impeach politicians

The next constitution will empower voters to impeach politicians if they escape the claws of parliamentarians, chief charter writer Borwornsak Uwanno said yesterday.

The Constitution Drafting Committee chairman said the body would make provisions about the impeachment of politicians clearer and would empower voters to have the final say if the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to impeach people they believed had abused their offices.

He said the next charter would empower elected MPs and selected senators to impeach politicians who had committed wrongdoings. If they were impeached by parliamentarians, they would have to leave office and would be banned from holding political office for five years.

But if the Parliament voted not to impeach, voters would be able to make the final decision - and if the public voted to impeach a politician, he or she would be banned from politics for life.

"This idea is to return the power to the people," the CDC chairman said.

He noted that the Senate, which was empowered to impeach politicians by past constitutions, had only impeached then National Human Rights Commission member Jara Disthapichai.

Borwornsak said the next constitution would clarify the differentiation between impeachment processes against a serving politician and against someone who had left office. If someone were targeted while still serving, the charter would call it the "impeachment process for removing the politician from office". In the alternative case, the "impeachment process for depriving politicians of their political rights" would be used.

Borwornsak said these clear definitions would prevent disputes over whether someone who had left office could be impeached.

He said that so far the issue had been discussed only in principle and more talks were needed to iron out the details.

"For example, we will have yet to decide how many votes will be required for impeachment [and] which behaviour or actions will warrant such a process and how it should proceed," he said.

Borwornsak believes the impeachment process against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will not affect the efforts of the Anek Laothamatas-chaired committee charged with studying reconciliation measures. He believes the panel's proposals will be supported by all sides.

"The outcome of the impeachment process [against Yingluck] by the National Legislative Assembly will set a precedence for all cases equally," he said.

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