Legal team urges halt to 3rd reading

Legal team urges halt to 3rd reading

House peaker Chuan Leekpai yesterday said parliament's legal team had suggested that today's third and final reading in parliament of the charter amendment bill should be suspended pending a public referendum on whether it should mandate parliament to write a new charter.

"I will raise the matter in parliament today to allow all lawmakers to express their opinions fully before making a decision on the next step," Mr Chuan said.

Parliament is scheduled to vote today on the charter amendment bill's third reading and Mr Chuan insisted he would still put the matter on the agenda.

Last week the Constitutional Court ruled that the power to draw up the charter rests with the people and a referendum.

Mr Chuan yesterday met parliament's legal team after MPs decided to seek advice from them on how to proceed with the charter amendment bill.

The government, the opposition and the Senate whips, chaired by Mr Chuan, met yesterday morning to figure out what to do with the proposed legislation in the wake of the court's ruling.

The court said the charter amendment bill involved amending Section 256 of the constitution and required that a new body be established to oversee the process.

It said a national referendum must first be held to determine if the people want a new charter and the process could only proceed if they agreed to a new charter being drafted.

A new draft will have to be put up for a second referendum which will determine if it will be adopted or not, said the court.

Prior to the release of the full ruling on Monday, parliament was on course to proceed with the final reading and the vote.

Chief government whip and deputy leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, Wirach Ratanasate, said lawmakers were still unsure what to do but chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang insisted today's vote should proceed.

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