Government aims to cut short stay in power
text size

Government aims to cut short stay in power

Wissanu attempts toreassure foreign envoys

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam got the call to speak to 31 ambassadors and other foreign diplomats to explain the military regime might try to cut its expected 20 months in office to 18 months or so. (Post Today photo)
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam got the call to speak to 31 ambassadors and other foreign diplomats to explain the military regime might try to cut its expected 20 months in office to 18 months or so. (Post Today photo)

The government sought Wednesday to reassure the international community that it would make efforts to shorten its stay in office by up to four months, after the charter draft rejection pushed elections back to mid-2017.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told foreign diplomats at a briefing that the government would try to cut its prolonged 20-month stay in power.

Representatives from 66 countries and 11 international organisations attended the political roadmap briefing Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry, including 31 ambassadors to Thailand.

"The process of drafting the constitution can be reduced by cutting each step by one or two months," Mr Wissanu said.

Although elections seemed far away, the process could be cut to 16-18 months, he added.

The government previously outlined the time frame for drafting a new charter and the roadmap to elections under a "6-4-6-4" formula: namely, six months for constitution drafting, four to prepare for a public referendum, another six for drafting new organic laws, and the last four for election preparations.

According to this roadmap, if the second draft sails through a referendum then fresh elections will take place in June 2017, and a new government formed the following month.

US embassy spokesperson Melissa Sweeney said the US maintains its stance of urging the government to return Thailand to democracy as soon as possible.

"Since the 2014 coup, we have urged the Thai government to put in place an open and inclusive political process that encourages the growth of democratic institutions and returns Thailand to democracy as soon as possible," Ms Sweeney told the Bangkok Post following the briefing.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said diplomats asked for more clarification on the new time frame of the roadmap.

In a separate interview, Mr Wissanu said Thailand wanted to communicate with the international community and help them understand the country's situation.

"The government doesn't want diplomats to follow the situation from the media alone. More importantly, we don't want them to see the '6-4-6-4' formula as an attempt to prolong our stay in power. We need to communicate with them," he said.

Mr Wissanu said the charter drafting process could be completed within five months, instead of the planned six, while drafting organic laws could be completed one month earlier. However, if the drafters discard the previous charter and start from scratch, they will need six months to complete their task, he said.

Meanwhile the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) should be able to shorten the amount of time it takes to scrutinise the draft organic laws, he added.

Preparations for a referendum could also be shortened by two weeks, the deputy prime minister said. However, it would not be possible to shorten the four months slated for election preparations, he said.

Mr Wissanu said the government would extend its thanks to Mark Kent, the British ambassador to Thailand, for his concerns about the Thai political situation.

He was referring to an article written by Mr Kent published on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, marking International Day of Democracy.

In the article, Mr Kent voiced his concerns that the restoration of democracy in Thailand seemed further away. He said he hoped for a full and free public debate on the implications for democracy as the new drafting process begins.

Mr Wissanu said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, expressed his understanding about the Thai political situation during the meeting.

Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he had suggested that the 20-month timeframe should be shortened if possible, but denied he had given an order for this. He said he had no idea what would happen if the new draft failed to pass the referendum.

Democrat secretary-general Juti Krairiksh said the party's focus was not on how soon elections could take place, but whether the interim government could solve key problems that elected governments could not.

Mr Wissanu said appointing the 21-member charter drafting panel was expected to be completed by Tuesday, before Gen Prayut leaves for a UN meeting. However, he could not confirm when it would be announced publicly.

The prime minister was given 30 days to make the appointments after the previous draft was rejected.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday his party would nominate people for the 200-member National Reform Steering Assembly (NSRA). "I'm not changing my stance [against undemocratic means]. Politicians weren't allowed to join the defunct National Reform Council because it had to approve a new charter. It isn't appropriate for a player to make the rules. But the NRSA will have no such power," he said.

Do you like the content of this article?