Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Saturday rejected a government suggestion that he thoroughly study a proposed referendum on charter amendments before calling for a public boycott.
Here's the problem: The final paragraph of the 2007 Constitution, and the official translation. The section legalises the coup of 2006 and all actions by the military junta which overthrew the Thaksin Shinawatra government.
He said the party would not stand in the way if the government's bid for a charter rewrite was not intended to whitewash deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
He said Pheu Thai's sole purpose was to alter Section 309 of the 2007 charter, which deals with the actions of the 2006 coup-makers who overthrew Thaksin.
"If Section 309 isn't altered the Democrat Party has no problem," he said.
He was reacting to PM's Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn's suggestion that the opposition party should wait for the question to be asked in the planned charter amendment referendum before urging a public boycott.
Mr Abhisit said the government decided to hold a referendum on the charter amendment because it was forced to do so. He said he could easily guess the questions to be put forward.
"The public will be asked if they want a new charter to be drafted. It is what the government wants. If the matter is allowed to proceed, conflicts will expand," he said.
Mr Abhisit said the government should withdraw the charter amendment bill and call off its bid to hold the referendum.
According to Mr Abhisit, the cabinet is authorised to call off the charter amendment and referendum. The final say would rest with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, he said.
Pheu Thai deputy spokesman Sunisa Lertpakhawat yesterday called on the Democrat Party to stop "holding back" the country.
She said the government's campaign to amend the charter was in line with Pheu Thai's policy platform. The allegation that Pheu Thai wanted to amend the charter, especially Section 309 to whitewash Thaksin, was baseless.
Meanwhile, former senator Ruangkrai Leekijwattana said he would petition the Election Commission tomorrow for a probe into Mr Abhisit's call to derail the referendum.
Mr Abhisit posted an open letter on his Facebook page on Dec 16 urging voters to reject changes to the constitution in the referendum.
He later said he only meant to encourage voters to vote "no" to the question of whether to accept a new charter in the referendum.
Mr Ruangkrai said Mr Abhisit's statement could violate the Referendum Act which prohibits actions that lead people into believing they should not vote in a referendum.
Mr Ruangkrai said the referendum rejection call could prompt a dissolution of the Democrat Party as Mr Abhisit's comment was made on the party's behalf.
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- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth