Protesters watching govt closely

Protesters watching govt closely

After Sept 19 rally, plans afoot to scrutinise progress on charter rewrite

Students will converge on parliament on Sept 23 and 24 to closely monitor whether MPs will accept in principle a motion to set up a constitution drafting committee. They also insisted their planned protest on Saturday will not be violent.

Thatthep Ruangprapaikitseree, a leader of the Free People group, on Saturday addressed concerns that the group's rally planned for Saturday may turn violent, saying the public should rather ask the government if it would use force against the protesters.

The group said earlier it planned to stay overnight at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus on Sept 19 and march the next day to Government House.

Mr Thatthep declined to say whether the protesters would seize Government House. He only said the objective was to submit the motion to the powers-that-be.

If the parliament did not accept the charter amendment motion, the protesters would rally again in October to press it for the establishment of a constitution drafting committee, Mr Thatthep said.

Arnon Nampa, another leader of the Free People group, expressed his confidence the rally would be safe and larger than the Aug 16 rally when they gathered at the Democracy Monument.

Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome predicted there could be as many as 100,000 in attendance on Sept 19. Some MPs of the party would go to observe the rally amid concerns over possible violence, he said.

The protesters had not resorted to violence in past demonstrations, he said.

Minister attached to the Prime Minister's Office Anucha Nakasai, who is also the secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, said he believed there would be no trouble.

He had asked about the situation in various areas from their respective MPs and was told there was nothing to worry about, the minister said.

Democrat Party Leader and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit commended the progress of the proposed charter amendment, saying most people seem to agree the constitution should be amended.

The minister proposed that the government, opposition and Senate whips decide together which particular clauses should be revised.

Mr Jurin said the Democrat Party had always held a clear position on amendments. The party had proposed a draft of the revised charter on behalf of the coalition and suggested a constitution drafting committee be selected to amend the charter without touching Chapter I and II, which cover Thailand's position as a unitary state and the King's place in the charter.


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