The government has decided to amend the interim constitution to pave the way for changes to the new constitution's provisions on the monarchy as advised by His Majesty the King, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed yesterday.
Speaking after a joint meeting of the cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Gen Prayut said it was agreed at the meeting that the interim charter will be amended.
He said the government will honour the advice from His Majesty that some changes be made to the new charter, which was approved in a referendum last August.
He explained the move came after the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary informed the government that issues relating to the new constitution's chapter on the monarchy needed to be discussed.
The Privy Council had forwarded the new constitution, which was submitted by the government, to the King for royal endorsement, and the King has advised there are three to four provisions that need to be amended to fit in with the monarch's authority, Gen Prayut said.
He added the changes have nothing to do with rights and liberties of the public.
"The matter has nothing to do with the rights and liberties of the people, but it is only about royal power," the prime minister said.
The government will act on the King's advice, Gen Prayut said, adding the interim charter must be amended first -- a process which should take no more than one month.
Afterwards, the new constitution will be returned to the government and amending the new charter will take about one month before it is resubmitted for royal endorsement, Gen Prayut said.
The interim charter needs to be amended because the new constitution was approved in last year's referendum. Therefore, the government must find ways to change the interim charter so that any amendments to the new charter do not have to be put to another referendum, the prime minister said.
The new charter is now pending royal endorsement. The interim charter stipulates a 90-day deadline for the charter to receive royal endorsement which expires on Feb 6.
If there is no royal endorsement by the deadline, the new charter will be considered dropped.
Under the interim charter amendment bill proposed by the government, when the prime minister submits the new constitution for royal endorsement and if the King makes observations about any charter amendments within 90 days of the new charter being submitted, the prime minister must ask for the document back so amendments can be made at the King's behest.
Afterwards, the prime minister will resubmit the amended new charter for royal endorsement within 30 days of the document being sent back to the prime minister.
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) whip spokesman Jate Siratharanont said the NLA will meet on Friday to consider the government's interim charter change bill as an urgent issue.
The NLA whip agreed the assembly will deliberate the amendment bill in three straight readings, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday said a resolution by the joint cabinet-NCPO meeting to amend the interim charter is in line with Section 46 of the interim charter which allows the cabinet and the NCPO to propose an interim charter amendment bill to the NLA for consideration.
The amendment bill is intended to allow the government to ask for the new constitution back from the King so revisions can be made to certain provisions.
The changes must be completed within 30 days of receiving the document back, Mr Wissanu said.
He said the prime minister will then set up a special committee comprising about 8-10 officials from the Council of State to work on amending the new charter's chapter on the monarchy.
He also said that in principle the charter provisions that are to be amended are Sections 5, 17, and 182.
When the amended new constitution is resubmitted for royal endorsement, the 90-day deadline for the new charter to receive royal approval will be applied again, Mr Wissanu said.