Wissanu hints at House dissolution as last resort

Wissanu hints at House dissolution as last resort

A deputy prime minister dropped a bombshell on Friday, hinting that the junta's chief could use Section 44 to dissolve the freshly elected House if the new-PM selection process drags on for months.

"By then, this government is still here and Section 44 is still here. So the House can be dissolved if the situation warrants it. By then society must accept that nothing else can be done if a PM can't be selected," he said.

He added he didn't mean to float the idea of dissolving the new House. "I simply want to underscore the fact there will never be an impasse."

Mr Wissanu, also adviser to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), added that the chance of it happening was very slim.

He was responding to reporters' question on what to do if the selection process did not complete promptly.

A concern arose after the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday on the integration of the addition referendum question into the new charter draft.

The court interpreted that according to the will of people expressed in the referendum, senators, in addition to MPs, should be allowed to vote to exempt the rule of choosing a PM from political parties' lists, paving the way for a non-MP not on those lists to become the prime minister.

Before the ruling, constitution writers had maintained that this right to decide whether to open that door belonged solely to MPs although senators may vote to choose the outsider PM in the next stage.

The consequence of the court's ruling is that with 250 votes of 750 of both houses, the NCPO-appointed senators can easily override the MPs' choice if they win support from smaller parties even though large parties may want the PM to be one of their men. In short, it substantially increases the chance of having a non-MP prime minister.

Supporters of the change played down the concern, saying large parties could still win in the vote if they agree to join hands.

They also pointed out while it was easier to have a non-MP prime minister, his job will not be as easy in the long run unless he has the support of the big parties. This is because only MPs can launch and vote in a censure debate.

Opponents think the chance that the two large parties would join hands and create a block vote was next to nil so a non-MP prime minister is almost a slam dunk.

The new charter, in a provisional clause, allows the junta's chief, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, to keep the absolute power under Section 44 even after the new constitution is promulgated. It will cease to take effect only after a new government starts performing its duty.

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