Election tipped for end 2016

Conflict of interest still clouds vote on charter

A general election is expected to take place in December next year with a newly elected government taking office in February 2017, assuming the draft charter receives approval throughout, according to a political source.

The tentative timeline made by observers comes after the draft charter was completed and is due to be put to a vote by the National Reform Council on Sept 6.

The timeline is based on the scenario that the National Reform Council (NRC) votes to accept the draft charter early next month and the draft is endorsed in a referendum in January-February next year.

Following the referendum, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) will draft six organic laws necessary for holding elections and push ahead with reforms and reconciliation.

These draft laws are expected to be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly for review in April and the NLA will have 90 days, or until July, to complete its deliberation. The Constitutional Court will spend another 30 days examining these laws, the source said. 

The laws will take effect in mid-September, initiating an election process with polls likely to happen in December. The House of Representatives is likely to convene in mid-January 2017 and a new government would take office in February, the source added.

Meanwhile, NRC chairman Thienchay Kiranandana has expressed confidence NRC members who are also CDC members will be allowed to vote whether to accept the draft constitution.

Mr Thienchay said they can participate in the Sept 6 vote as they will be exercising their rights as NRC members, not members of the CDC.

He was responding to plans by several NRC members to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the 21 NRC members who served on the CDC should not vote to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr Thienchay said he has no legal power to order the NRC members who worked on drafting the charter to abstain from voting.

The proposed charter will fail it does not receive a majority of yes-votes from the NRC — at least half of its 247 current members, or 124.

One of the NRC members who served on the CDC is NRC deputy chairman Borwornsak Uwanno.

It is reported the CDC has asked NRC members among its ranks to lobby the rest into voting for the charter. Each has been tasked with persuading eight NRC members to back it.

"If the [conflict of interest] persists, we can remove [the 21 NRC members'] votes from the count, Mr Thienchay said.

About the author

Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa and Aekarach Sattaburuth