Charter rewrite vote may coincide with PAO polls

Charter rewrite vote may coincide with PAO polls

A panel drawing up guidelines for a charter referendum is considering whether it is possible to hold it alongside provincial administrative organisation (PAO) elections, tentatively scheduled to take place next year or in 2025.

Speaking before talks with the Election Commission (EC) on the referendum process, panel chairman Wutthisarn Tanchai said the timeline of PAO elections was among the topics to be raised.

He said the panel is assessing the possibility of holding the charter referendum around the same time as the PAO polls.

The panel would also ask the EC about the feasibility of implementing electronic voting for the referendum, the timeline for holding it and the budget required, he said.

Mr Wutthisarn said the panel's work primarily relates to the legal aspects tied to the Constitutional Court's ruling on amending the charter.

The court ruled earlier that an amendment to Section 256 of the constitution, which paves the way for a charter-drafting assembly, would involve replacing the current charter. As such, a referendum before and after the charter is redrawn would be required, the court said.

Mr Wutthisarn said the government announced it would not amend Chapters 1 and 2 of the charter, so the panel must study if the amendment process involves "replacing" the current charter and determining how many referendums should be held.

EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said the EC is not authorised to decide how many referendums are required as that decision is down to the government.

The EC is ready to organise a charter rewrite referendum, but the budget has yet to be discussed.

Mr Wutthisarn's panel is one of two sub-committees under a government committee to study the design of a referendum, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai. The other, chaired by Nikorn Chamnong, is responsible for gauging public opinion about a charter rewrite.

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