Nikom: Charter change will happen

The move for constitutional amendment by a number of senators and government MPs will succeed and would unlock the political deadlock, Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanich said on Thursday.

Mr Nikom said he had such confidence because the proposed changes would resolve problems caused by the exisiting constitution.

He said Article 237 must be altered because the dissolution a political party undermined the party system. The proposed amendment to Article 190, on international agreements, would strengthen the country’s competitiveness in the world community.

The proposed for changes in the sections concerning the appointment and election of senators and their terms in parliament would to give power back to people, who would get to elect all their senators. This would make the charter more democratic, he said.

Mr Nikom said the move for charter change was not a joining of forces between elected senators and government MPs in the self-interest of particular political parties. Nor was it in response to an order by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as critics claimed.

The senate speaker denied as baseless reports that the move was also for the benefit of the members of House  109 now under a five-year ban from politics.

The term of their banishment would end in December 2013, and the charter amendment would not be complete  before then, he said.

Asked about a threat by members of the 40 appointed senators group that they would ask the Constitution Court to rule on legitimacy of the move to amend the charter section by section, Mr Nikom said they have constitutional right to do so. 

He said these senators were all appointed with combined terms of 11 years and were not happy to allow people to elect all their senators.

It was reported that three appointed senators, Nirand Praditkul, Mahannop Dechvitak and Jarupong Jeenapan, on Thursday submitted a letter to Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont withdrawing their support for the three bills.

Three bills to amend some sections of the 2007 constitution were submitted to Mr Somsak on Wednesday. They were backed by MPs of the Pheu Thai and other coalition parties and some appointed senators.

Leading the legislators supporting the charter amendment bills were Direk Thuengfang, a Nonthaburi senator, and Udomdej Rattanasathien, a Pheu Thai MP for Nonthaburi.

The first bill seeks to amend Sections 68 and 237 so that the leader and executive committee members of a political party would not be stripped of their election rights and the party would not be dissolved in the event a party candidate is found guilty of electoral fraud.

The second bill seeks to amend Section 190 to do away with the requirement that all agreements with other countries must be approved by parliament.

The third bill is designed to amend Sections 111, 112, 115, 117, 118, 120 and 241 and annul Sections 113 and 114. These sections concern the appointment and selection of senators and their terms in parliament. Under the bill, all 200 senators would be elected and they would be free to stand for re-election.

Mr Somsak said on Wednesday that it would take about one week to examine and verify the three bills before putting them on the House agenda.

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