Prayut promises 'no proxy' for elections

Prayut promises 'no proxy' for elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greets Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a plenary session of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit on Friday in Washington. (AFP photo)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greets Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a plenary session of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit on Friday in Washington. (AFP photo)

The prime minister has reiterated the schedule for next year's general election remains unchanged and he will not have a proxy contest the polls to prolong his hold on power.

In an interview with the Voice of America's Thai service in Washington DC on Thursday, Gen Prayut said the general election will be held in the middle of next year as stipulated by his government's roadmap.

"No nominee will run in the poll to retain power. My plan after the poll is to go back home and take care of my grandchildren. I just want to rest," he said.

Gen Prayut was attending the Nuclear Security Summit there on Thursday and on Friday.

His remarks come as the National Council for Peace and Order stands accused by opponents of trying to prolong its hold on power by seeking to appoint 250 senators, with people possibly being asked in a referendum in early August whether the Senate should be able to name a prime minister.

Gen Prayut said he had no concerns about the domestic situation because laws were being enforced strictly, but he was worried about the perception other countries have of Thailand.

Gen Prayut said he has met representatives of many countries and answered their questions. They spoke only of democracy, elections and human rights, and did not bother to ask what had happened in Thailand and why he had to take power, the premier said. He explained the reasons, but they paid no attention, he said.

They were interested only in human rights because they heard the government killed people, including 400-500 reporters, jailed thousands of others and covered people's heads with black bags — all of which never happened, said Gen Prayut. Those who concocted these stories had fled the country, he said.

Meanwhile, the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) on Friday voted 136-3 to forward a question to be included in the referendum on the draft charter to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for consideration.

Voters will be asked if the appointed Senate should be allowed to join the House of Representatives in selecting a prime minister during the five-year post-election transition period.

NRSA member Wanchai Sornsiri, who proposed the inclusion of this question, argued the Senate would help the Lower House find a suitable candidate who has what it takes to be a prime minister.

However, fellow NRSA member Kasit Piromya said the NRSA should not propose the inclusion of the question in the referendum.

He said the question will only distract the public's attention from the draft charter and cause confusion.

The NLA will meet on April 7 to decide whether to include the question in the referendum.

In the event the draft charter and the additional question pass the referendum, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) will have to revise the new constitution within 30 days as stipulated by the interim charter.

The CDC will then submit the revised charter to the Constitutional Court to ensure the change stays in line with the essence of the new constitution as a whole — a process which will take 30 days before the new charter can be forwarded for royal endorsement.

In that case, the general election — expected to be held in the middle of next year — could be delayed further by one and a half months.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Friday if the draft constitution is endorsed in the referendum, the CDC will need time to draw up four organic laws governing elections.


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