Charter change plan on its way
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Charter change plan on its way

First parliamentary reading expected in September

Parties in the coalition government will table a motion seeking to amend the constitution to parliament on Tuesday, including details of the formation of a panel which will write a new charter.

Wirach Ratanasate, chief government whip, said the motion will be submitted to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, and members of parliament will meet on Sept 23 and 24 to consider the motion at its first reading.

The opposition camp submitted its version of a charter amendment motion to Mr Chuan on Aug 17.

The thrust of the motion from the government coalition parties will be to amend Section 256 of the constitution, Mr Wirach said, adding doing so would allow the charter drafting assembly to be formed to draw up a new charter.

Section 256 says charter changes require the support of at least one-third of the Senate, or 84 senators.

The section also stipulates that a national referendum is required if a would-be amendment involves the charter amendment process, the chapters on general principles and the monarchy.

These requirements are widely seen as a major hurdle to rewriting the constitution, which was enacted by the previous coup-installed government.

Earlier this week, Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Thepthai Senpong said the charter drafting body would comprise 200 MPs, senators, academics and students.

The charter drafters would be given 240 days to come up with a new constitution, he said.

However, government coalition parties have agreed the constitution's Chapters 1 and 2, which contain general principles and sections associated with the monarchy, will be left unchanged.

The charter amendment process was set in motion after students kicked off a series of anti-government protests last month. One of their demands was to rewrite the constitution.

Mr Thepthai said on Saturday the charter amendment process must be swift to ease reform pressure from student protesters, adding there would be no need for the charter drafting process to go back to square one.

The MP said charter drafters would draw up a new constitution by using the best parts of previously enacted charters, such as the ones drafted in 1997 and 2007.

Meanwhile, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said his committee has finished studying constitutional amendments and will present findings to the House of Representatives for its feedback tomorrow.

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