NCPO unveils next step to poll

NCPO unveils next step to poll

Prayuth mulls interim govt's 'special powers'

National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has unveiled the second stage of his reform roadmap, which is likely to see fresh elections take place late next year.

In his weekly televised update of the military council's operations on Sunday, Gen Prayuth said the country is set to begin the second stage of the roadmap next month, where it will see the promulgation of an interim charter.

He said the drafting of an interim charter is already complete. The charter will pave the way for the establishment of a national legislative assembly and a national reform committee.

The new bodies are tasked with reforming the electoral and political system and drafting a new charter which will lay the foundations for fresh elections, he said.

According to Gen Prayuth, the NCPO will next week consider the draft interim charter and the "special powers" needed to restore and maintain law and order. He did not elaborate.

A source said yesterday that "special powers" likely refer to the authority required by an interim government in order to ensure smooth national administration.

In the past, several military-run governments have been given absolute power to bypass legal red tape.

Gen Prayuth said the NCPO-installed government will stay on for about three months after the enforcement of the new constitution to prepare for fresh elections and to usher in a new political system free of divisions.

"Reform takes time, but everything should fall into place by 2015. We will have an elected government. We need your help," he said.

Anek Laothammathat, president of the college of government and public governance at Rangsit University, said the NCPO's latest announcement is likely to draw positive feedback from the international community.

The academic said the country's rating and economic performance are likely to improve from now on.

However, Mr Anek urged the military to make sure it could prevent abuse and corruption when it entrusts an interim government with any type of special power.

He also called on the NCPO to screen people before appointing them to work in legislative and reform bodies, and to make sure the composition of all councils is balanced to secure respect and acceptance.

Gen Prayuth last night urged individuals summoned by the NCPO to comply with the orders, saying all of those who report to coup-makers would be released.

He said those with pending legal cases are allowed to fight the charges under due process. He urged them not to worry about being court-martialled, saying due process will prevail and several suspects have been granted bail.

He also mentioned former Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan and former PM’s Office minister Jakrapob Penkair who last week formed an anti-coup movement, known as the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy.

Mr Charupong and Mr Jakrapob are wanted for defying summonses. But the fugitive former PM’s Office minister is also wanted on lese majeste charges.

Gen Prayuth said it would be best for them to return and fight the charges.

According to Gen Prayuth, political cases will be considered during the second stage of the roadmap which deals with political reform. Criminal offences such as arms dealing and trafficking, however, will not be tolerated.

"We will ensure justice. If you continue to fight the way you are doing, you are likely to face more charges," he said.

Gen Prayuth denied reports that he was involved in plotting with the anti-government camp to bring down the last government.

"I didn't join a side. It is important to know where we stand. I would never do such a thing and put the army's integrity at risk. The NCPO came along when problems could not be solved," he said.

The NCPO has warned against organising political activities, not even to raise funds. Gen Prayuth was apparently referring to last Saturday's event held by the People's Democratic Reform Committee to raise money for victims of violence during recent street protests.

He said such activities are in defiance of martial law and the NCPO will take legal action against those who defy its orders.

"I am banning them. There should be no more political talks or fund-raising talks. It isn't the time for such activities," he said. He said if one group can do it, others would follow suit, which could jeopardise the NCPO's efforts to forge national reconciliation.

Gen Prayuh said the military has been using a soft approach when dealing with anti-coup activists.

He stressed there is virtually no restriction of freedom of expression, except where freedoms threaten NCPO work.

Gen Prayuth said the NCPO is pushing to improve the role of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, including plans to return funds from the digital TV auction to the state.

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