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Thai junta will have final say on charter

Publication Date : 09-07-2014

 

A provisional charter is set to be put into effect soon after it is submitted to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for final approval before it gets royal endorsement and can be promulgated.

The interim charter, drafted by a team of law experts led by Prof Wissanu Krea-ngam, is currently undergoing final approval.

Meanwhile, political observers have been waiting patiently to see what the new charter would say regarding the National Legislative Assembly, the prime minister and the National Reform Council.

However, the most interesting point would be the subject of security and what powers the NCPO would be given to deal with security issues once an interim government takes over.

The NCPO has some lessons to learn from the 2006 coup. At that time, coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin failed to retain enough power after handing the administration over to a post-coup government led by General Surayud Chulanont. Hence, the military was unable to complete its goal of completely overthrowing the Thaksin Shinawatra government. This is possibly why many of the problems, such as corruption and conflict, were left unsolved and Thaksin's camp managed to return to power. For many, the 2006 coup was a "waste of time".

In order for the NCPO to not repeat this mistake, it is believed that the provisional charter will include a special clause that gives the council more power than the interim government in relation to security matters. This clause would be similar to Article 27 in the 1991 interim charter, which came into effect after the government of Chatichai Choonhavan was ousted in a coup staged by a group of military officers calling themselves the National Peacekeeping Council (NPKC).

Article 27 said that if at any time the country's security was threatened, the NPKC chief or the prime minister had the power to issue orders. This meant that the NPKC chief had the same powers as the government leader in terms of security matters.

Should there be a similar clause in the new interim charter, NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha will have the power to issue security-related orders without having to consult the government and essentially ignore any disagreements. (There were previous reports that the junta chief might also double as an interim premier.)

In comparison, Article 34 in the charter put in place after the 2006 coup stated that the post-coup Council of National Security (led by General Sonthi) or the prime minister could call a joint meeting with the council and the Cabinet to discuss ways of dealing with security threats. This meant the coup leaders could only act as advisers to the post-coup government.

NCPO probably wants to retain power in terms of security because it wants to be able to deal with problems such as street protests or riots that may happen in the future.

 

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