The next general election is expected to be held by June 2017, after formation of a new constitution drafting committee (CDC) early next month, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the new draft charter should be based on the previous one rejected by the National Reform Council (NRC) on Sunday, General Lertrat Ratanavanich, spokesman for the old CDC, said.
Lertrat said Prayut had told him during the wedding reception of government spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd on Sunday that the previous draft charter, written by then-CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno and his team, should be improved upon.
Meanwhile, Wissanu came up with the formula 6-4-6-4 - meaning six months to write the charter draft, four months to prepare a referendum, six months to write organic laws that will be reviewed by the National Legislative Assembly and the Constitutional Court, and four months of election campaigning.
He said the time for certain tasks could be shortened to less than six months - but the four months for an election campaign would not be reduced.
The NRC's voting down of the charter draft has paved a way for the process to write another charter draft, as stipulated by the Interim Charter 2014.
It also said the NRC would be replaced by a 200-member council to push for national reform strategies. Wissanu said the council would continue the work of the now-defunct NRC to implement reform master plans on 37 topics and would not be involved in the charter drafting process.
Wissanu said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) would handpick the new CDC with not more than 21 members. He would play no role in selecting them and would not join the committee since he held a ministerial post.
He said the new CDC would have to think of |other options in solving problems in case of a |political impasse and civil strife as experienced |in the first half of last year.
He said that the former Constitution Drafting Committee had designed the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee (NSRRC) to give special power to the junta to handle the country in times of such a crisis. The NSRRC was designed because once the new charter takes effect, the PM could not take recourse to Article 44 to exercise absolute power to deal with crises.
Since the NSRRC had been rejected, the new CDC may have to think of new measures. "If people are not afraid of a political deadlock, new measures are not needed but if they do, they have to design new measures that won't be seen as (a mechanism for the junta) to hold on to power,'' Wissanu said.
"Politicians must also not continue their behaviour that causes public distrust. They should meet half-way or reconcile, because the country is badly bruised." The government had yet to plan what to do if the new draft is rejected in a referendum, he said.