PPRP set to name chief of charter change panel

PPRP set to name chief of charter change panel

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon

The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) will nominate the person it deems most fit to lead the House committee tasked with studying constitutional amendments, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said.

Gen Prawit, who is the party's chief strategist, said this in response to a question on whether former Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva would be suited to the role. "I don't know. But as the party's chief strategist, I will have to nominate someone from our party to compete for the post," he said, adding that the nomination will first be discussed with the coalition partners.

As for the comment from Thepthai Senpong, a Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat, who said the government was not sincere enough about amending the charter and that the setting up of the committee was only "a ritual", Gen Prawit insisted the amendments will press ahead and that there was no reason to "clear the air" over the matter.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawon, who is also PPRP's secretary-general, said the coalition parties will discuss the committee's chairmanship once the panel is up and running. The minister also brushed aside criticism that the government was dragging its feet on the issue of charter amendment, saying the government was acting in line with its policy statement. "Let the charter study begin first. When the outcome is out, we will act on it," he said.

Constitutional amendment was one of the 12 priorities declared by the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration before it took office. The Democrat Party had insisted on charter changes as a precondition for joining the PPRP-led government.

Deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, said his party will toe the coalition line when voting for the committee chairman.

Deputy government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek said yesterday the list of six outsiders who are not cabinet members has been approved for the 49-member panel. There will be 49 members on the panel: 18 representing the coalition government, 19 from the opposition and 12 from the cabinet.

However, the inclusion of cabinet ministers was dropped as they may not have enough time to attend meetings, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said earlier. Excluding cabinet ministers will leave 12 seats vacant, six of which are expected to be filled by senators, members of independent agencies and government legal experts, while the other six will be taken up by individuals chosen by the government whip.

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