Anti-coup safeguard may become law
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Anti-coup safeguard may become law

The Defence Council has greenlighted a proposal authorising the prime minister to suspend top officers suspected of plotting a military coup, said Jamnong Chaimongkol, defence vice minister.

The coup prevention proposal was put forth at the Defence Council meeting chaired by Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang on April 19.

The council approved a proposal to amend two laws governing the administrative functions of the Defence Ministry and the Military Court charter. It also specifies new criteria for promoting generals.

Senior officers must possess no background of having been a person of malign influence or any involvement with drugs, human trafficking and the destruction of natural resources.

They must not have been embroiled in a conflict of interest, such as being or having been a concessionaire of the ministry.

Also, they cannot be facing criminal proceedings, unless over negligence, defamation or minor offences.

Most importantly, the proposal also authorises the prime minister, with prior approval of the cabinet, to immediately suspend from duty senior officers who plot to deploy a military force to seize power and topple the government.

Mr Jamnong said the coup prevention proposal has been mooted for sometime by civic groups and the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

After Mr Sutin assumed the role of defence minister, he headed a working group to study the issue with military representatives invited to give input.

"Those present at the meeting seconded the proposal.

"The armed forces commanders did not express their opinions," he said.

Since it was difficult to write an anti-coup clause in the constitution, which tend to be torn up by coupmakers, Mr Jamnong said it made more sense to specify the stipulation in the law.

"It's a concept we discussed quite extensively within pro-democracy circles," he said, apparently referring to the opposition bloc made up largely of Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party during the previous Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.

The proposed coup prevention amendments will now be tabled before cabinet before being submitted to parliament for deliberation.

In addition, the council meeting agreed to appoint two additional Defence Council memberships, boosting the number of sitting members.

Mr Jamnong said the meeting decided to abolish Military Courts in the provinces.

Damaged parties in cases typically under the Military Court's jurisdiction can instead file legal action in the Criminal Court. In wartime, appeals may be lodged by private individuals with the Supreme Military Court.

The vice minister said the legal amendments were meant to keep the defence administration up to date with changes in society.

Meanwhile, Col Dangjai Suwannakitti, deputy Defence Ministry spokeswoman, said those signed up to be conscripts in this year's enlistment number 42,260, up 9% from last year. They account for half the total number of conscripts recruited this year.

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