Charter drafters guarantee seats for military chiefs in senate

Taking in some of the junta’s suggestions to amend the draft charter, the Constitution Drafting Committee has guaranteed seats for military chiefs in the senate.

Matichon Online reported that Norachit Sinhaseni, spokesperson of the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), announced at 4:10 pm on Tuesday, 22 March 2016, that the CDC has agreed with some of the recommendations from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on the 2016 draft constitution.

Meeting the junta’s suggestions halfway, the CDC said that 200 of the 250 senators will be selected by a committee of 8-10 individuals, but retained the plan for another 50 to be handpicked by the same committee from 20 professional groups.

When asked if the military chiefs will be some in the senate as the junta suggested, the CDC spokesman said that the draft allows six senate seats to be held by active government officials – in other words, guaranteeing seats for the chiefs of the military and the police.

The senate in cooperation with the NCPO will possesses mandates to push for reforms and to safeguard the constitution. Nonetheless, the CDC did not agree with the junta to allow the senate to initiate a no-confidence vote against the government.  

The CDC maintained the single-ballot voting system, insisting on the proportional mixed member representation method, which allows voters to vote only once for the MP from their constituencies and for the party.

Last week, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Defence Minister and deputy junta leader, told the media that the proposal of the NCPO to the CDC to have an all-appointed senate with six seats reserved for military and police leaders is only for a five-year transition period toward ‘full democracy’.

Under the proposal, all 250 seats in the Senate are to be either selected or appointed by a panel of 8-10 members before the list of those selected is sent for royal endorsement. Six seats, however, will be reserved for the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, the Supreme Commander, the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force, and the police chief.

The plan has been strongly criticised by many people, including politicians from both the Pheu Thai and the Democrat parties, who decried the proposal as a coup d’état in disguise.

However, Gen Prawit said the plan to have the top military and police brass sitting in the Upper House will, if it is enacted, prevent future coups d’état.

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