PAD warns govt on charter bid

PAD warns govt on charter bid

Group threatens mass protests, legal action

The People's Alliance for Democracy is threatening legal action and mass rallies in response to the government's charter amendment bid.

Chamlong: ‘PAD won’t tolerate move’

The group vowed to seek the prosecution of those who push for a constitutional rewrite it says is part of attempts to get former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra off the hook.

As the government is scheduled to propose charter change drafts to the House today, PAD leaders held a press conference yesterday to oppose the amendment bid.

Around the same time, a group of senators held a separate meeting and voiced similar opposition to the proposed charter rewrite.

PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang said the charter rewrite would greatly damage the nation and the PAD would not tolerate it.

He said MPs who support the planned amendment of Section 291 of the constitution would face legal action and impeachment in parliament for causing the country damage.

The government plans to change Section 291 to allow the formation of a constitution drafting assembly (CDA).

PAD co-leader Somkiat Pongpaibul considered the charter change as an attempt to create a new kind of state, which he said was unacceptable.

He said apart from legal action, the PAD would stage major protests against charter change if the government pressed ahead with it.

Another PAD leader Pibhop Dhongchai said the current constitution promulgated in 2007 never obstructed national administration. The government wanted the charter change only to free Thaksin from his two-year jail term over the Ratchadaphisek land case and to help him evade prosecution and consolidate the power of Pheu Thai.

The connections were clear, he said. Pheu Thai is the ruling party and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is Thaksin's sister.

The clear goal of the charter rewrite move is to secure an amnesty for Thaksin and introduce a new power structure in the country.

"The current constitution is deemed by some to be obstructive to the expansion and access to power of [the government's] financiers and it is also obstructive to Thaksin," he said.

Thaksin fled the country to escape a two-year jail sentence by the Supreme Court for abuse of authority and he has been prosecuted in several graft cases.

PAD spokesman Panthep Phuaphongphan said politicians in power would control the CDA because the 77 drafters would be elected from each of the provinces and House members would select 22 other drafters who were experts.

He said the CDA would create a whole new charter that would pave the way for a parliamentary dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Surajit Chirawet, of the Group of 50 Senators, said the three charter amendment bills being pushed by the cabinet, Pheu Thai and its coalition partner Chartthaipattana reflected attempts to influence the judiciary and independent organisations including the National Anti-Corruption Commission and Election Commission.

Rosana Tositrakul, a group member, said there was an obvious intent to control the executive, legislative and judicial branches and nullify the criminal charges against Thaksin.

She said the constitution had been endorsed by 14 million people in a referendum. She demanded the government abort its charter change efforts.

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