Worachai amnesty legislation put on House agenda

Worachai amnesty legislation put on House agenda

The amnesty bill drafted by red-shirt MPs led by Worachai Hema has been placed on parliament's agenda waiting for its first reading vote, House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont said yesterday.

Mr Somsak said the bill has been slotted as the second-last item.

Mr Worachai said this week he would ask the House to speed up its amnesty bill deliberations once the legislation was included on the House agenda.

Mr Somsak said it was up to the House to decide whether to move the bill up the agenda. He did not expect the Worachai bill to get its first reading during the current legislative session, which ends on April 18.

Critics have said the bill might contravene the constitution on the basis of a conflict of interest.

They argue Mr Worachai could benefit from the bill which he and 41 other red-shirt MPs have co-sponsored.

Mr Somsak, however, cast aside the critics' argument.

He said Section 3 of the bill says co-leaders of protest groups responsible for political violence since the Sept 19, 2006 coup will not be given an amnesty.

As a red-shirt co-leader, Mr Worachai will not be covered by the bill.

Details of who was defined as a "co-leader" in the bill would have to checked by the House. However, Mr Worachai had spoken on stage to address the red-shirt members, which naturally made him one of their leaders, he said.

Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai said he supported the government whip's position not to move the Worachai bill up the agenda for fear of triggering a new round of social unrest.

The bill has been criticised as attempting to introduce a wholesale amnesty aimed at exonerating ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted by the Supreme Court and sentenced to two years in jail over the Ratchadaphisek land case.

Mr Surachai said the Worachai bill - one of several amnesty bills waiting their first reading - is not the answer to national reconciliation.

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