King to sign charter on Thursday

King to sign charter on Thursday

Trumpets, 21-gun salute herald occasion

The new constitution will be royally endorsed and officially announced on Thursday, according to a Bureau of the Royal Household document.

The document, published in the Royal Gazette yesterday, outlines the royal ceremony for the announcement of the new charter, which will be held in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall on Thursday. His Majesty the King will attend the ceremony.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will address the issue officially today after he is informed about it by the cabinet.

Mr Wissanu said he had just been notified about the matter and was uncertain about a few points, but that they could be settled soon.

He did not elaborate on what those points were.

Once the constitution is officially announced, the process under the regime's roadmap leading to the polls would kick off, the deputy premier said.

According to the schedule in the document, His Majesty the King will travel from the Ambara Villa of Dusit Palace to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, where he will attend the ceremony at 3pm on Thursday.

Participants in the ceremony will include royal family members, privy councillors, cabinet members, foreign diplomats, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members, Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) members as well as chiefs of the Supreme Court and independent bodies and civil and military officers.

During the ceremony, the King will allow his secretary to hand him the new constitution, which will be signed and handed to the prime minister.

After the King's announcement of the new charter is made, officials will beat gongs and blow trumpets, which will be followed by marching music played by royal guards. Then a 21-gun salute will be carried out by the army, navy and air force.

Temples across the country will ring bells and beat drums to celebrate the event.

NLA chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, meanwhile, expressed confidence the new charter would help better prevent and suppress corruption.

He said several organic laws attached to the charter cover anti-graft elements in terms of either direct approaches and given policies.

The NLA chief said he supports the proposal for graft suspects to be tried in absentia so the cases can move at a fast pace.

However the suspects should be brought to court at least once so they can counter allegations in court to ensure justice, he noted.

The draft constitution was approved in last August's referendum and it was then sent to the King for royal endorsement.

On Jan 9, the privy councillors met the prime minister to discuss issues relating to the new constitution's chapter on the monarchy after the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary informed the government about the King's observations on the draft.

A special 11-member committee, led by CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan, was then formed to amend the new charter based on the King's observations concerning the monarch's authority.

The changes have nothing to do with the rights and liberties of the public.

On Feb 17, the prime minister submitted the amended charter to the King. The royal endorsement needs to be made within 90 days in line with the interim charter.

When the new constitution is promulgated, the CDC has 240 days to complete the 10 organic laws, which will be tabled to the NLA for consideration -- a process that will take two months.

In the event the NLA wants to make revisions to the organic laws, a joint NLA-CDC panel must be set up to vet the draft organic laws, and this process could be extended by another month.

The organic laws will then be submitted to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

Section 268 of the draft charter states that the election must be completed within 150 days from the day all four organic laws concerning the poll take effect.

The laws cover the election of members of parliament, the composition of the Senate, the Election Commission and the political parties.

Mr Wissanu said after the new constitution is put into force, the NLA will continue working, but its term will end 15 days before the election.

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