Thailand published a draft of its twentieth constitution. Thailand junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee published a draft constitution but the official in charge of drawing it up said he feared it would not resolve long-running troubles and critics said it would produce weak civilian government under the sway of the military.
The draft of Thailand’s 20th constitution is to replace one scrapped after a 2014 coup by generals who promised stability in Southeast Asia’s second biggest economy and to heal divisions after a decade of turbulence.
The government made a new constitution a prerequisite for an election and a military appointed council rejected a previous draft in September.
Criticism of the new draft has raised the possibility of a return to democracy being derailed again but Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said this week a vote would go ahead in mid-2017, even if under an old constitution. Critics say the draft is aimed at consolidating the military’s power.
The constitution will also be harder to amend than previous ones and the junta will retain powers until a new government is elected, including a much-criticised clause to counter any threat to national security.
Critics state that the new constitution is aimed at increasing the power of the military under the guise of clauses intended to promote national security, and will be much harder to amend. The draft is expected to go before a referendum in July.
Thailand’s political system has been unstable since the 2006 military coup by the Royal Thai Army against then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of Yingluck Shinawatra, a succeeding prime minister.
Yingluck Shinawatra herself was removed from office in May 2014 shortly before the military seized control of the government.
Martial law was instituted on May 20, 2014, two days before the coup that ousted the former Thai government and installed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the country’s new prime minister.
Since then, political demonstrations have been banned, and hundreds have been arrested for protesting the junta.
The current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced in April that the country’s military government would lift the martial law and replace it with a new security order.
Last October Thailand’s military government appointed the committee to draft this new constitution after a previous draft was rejected the month before.