Yingluck wants charter change bill vote delayed

Yingluck wants charter change bill vote delayed

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wants to delay a vote on the constitutional amendment bill to avoid potentially serious consequences that could backfire on her, a highly placed source within the Pheu Thai Party says.

The source said a meeting Monday of the party's strategic committee, led by former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, agreed with a recommendation of a team of advisers to Ms Yingluck that the vote be put off.

The recommendation was then brought up for discussion at a meeting of Pheu Thai MPs yesterday.

The proposal to delay the vote drew fierce opposition from some red-shirt MPs, including Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Nattawut Saikuar and Korkaew Pikulthong, who want parliament to vote on the charter bill during the joint session today.

Pheu Thai MPs who support the proposal to delay the vote included Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, the source said.

Several MPs want the party to tread carefully on the issue. They are concerned that if the House votes to pass the charter amendment bill in defiance of the Constitution Court's order to suspend parliamentary deliberation of the law, Ms Yingluck could land in serious trouble.

Under the law, if the House votes to pass the bill the prime minister must submit the charter amendment legislation for royal endorsement. If royal approval is delayed, the prime minister may be in dire straits, the source said.

Government chief whip Udomdej Rattanasathien said there will not be a vote on the charter change bill during the House-Senate joint sitting today because it is not on the meeting agenda.

Mr Udomdej, a Pheu Thai MP for Nonthaburi, said members of the two houses would be allowed to continue the debate on the Constitution Court's injunction, after having failed to reach a conclusion on Friday.

Mr Udomdej said many members of the two houses wanted a vote on the charter amendment bill to take place right after the debate.

But doing so would only make way for the opposition to seek Constitution Court intervention again and this would further delay the charter amendment process, Mr Udomdej said.

Mr Korkaew, a core member of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said if Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont yielded to the court's order it would be tantamount to admitting that the legislative branch "is grovelling at the feet of the judiciary".

Meanwhile, Senate Speaker Thiradej Meepian said yesterday the Senate has accepted petitions filed seeking the removal of Mr Somsak as House speaker.

Petitioners have accused Mr Somsak of violating the constitution by recommending that parliament debate the reconciliation bills urgently.

The Senate also accepted a petition from the red shirts seeking the impeachment of seven Constitution Court judges who ordered the debate on the charter rewrite bill suspended.

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