Chalerm to propose own amnesty bill

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will propose a bill to grant amnesty to all, regardless of political affiliation, during the next parliamentary session which begins in August.

Mr Chalerm said his draft bill had only six sections. It would grant amnesty to all who were involved in political violence since the Sept 19, 2006 military coup that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government up to the day his proposed amnesty law takes effect.

After parliament goes into recess on April 21, he would tour the Northeast to explain the bill and its intentions to the people there.

Copies of his bill would be distributed to all political parties and educational institutes for study, he said.

"I will propose the bill myself. It will definitely not be against the rule of law," he added.

Mr Chalerm claimed all sides would benefit from his legislation, which he regarded as the first step forward in ending the divisions in the country.

He admitted ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would benefit from it, but it was up to him to decide for himself whether to return to Thailand if the bill became law.

Mr Chalerm declined to comment on the decision today by the Pheu Thai Party to move an amnesty bill filed by Samut Prakan MP Worachai Hema to the top of the House agenda for the August parliamentary session.

Meanwhile, the joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday agreed by a vote of 356-19 that the committees set up early this month to scrutinise three charter amendment bills should each complete their task in 15 days and report back by April 19.

MPs of the opposition Democrat Party did not take part in the vote and walked out in protest against the actions of Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont.

Three 45-member committees were set up to scrutinise the three charter bills after they were passed in the first reading on April 3.

After the scrutiny committees were set in place, the joint sitting was short of a quorum, but Mr Somsak went ahead anyway and gave them 15 days to complete their tasks, as set down in a parliament regulation, without calling a vote - amid protests by Democrat MPs.

Mr Somsak then decided to call Thursday's joint sitting of parliament to vote on the scrutiny period. The joint sitting voted 393-19 that the scrutiny period should be 15 days, and be completed by April 19.

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