Thailand ponders appointing unelected prime minister

Constitutional committee approves plan for premier to come from outside parliament

Thailand ponders appointing unelected prime minister

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thailand could soon appoint an unelected prime minister, local media reported Thursday, in a move criticized as reverting to the 1980s, when the country was dubbed a “half-cooked democracy."

The committee drafting a new constitution on Thursday approved a clause that would allow the National Assembly to select a premier from outside its ranks, the Bangkok Post said.

Since 1988, Thailand’s prime minister has been a lawmaker from the National Assembly, except during periods of military rule. Previously, the constitution allowed legislators to appoint a prime minister from outside the National Assembly. Under this system, Prem Tinsulanonda, a retired military officer, held the premiership from 1980 to 1988.

When the proposed change emerged for the first time in December it was strongly opposed by politicians, including former prime minister and Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. “An outsider PM maybe acceptable in a crisis situation but it would be dangerous in normal circumstances,” he said at the time.

A previous attempt by the military to insert such a clause triggered protests and bloodshed. By the time King Bhumibol Adulyadej intervened in May 1992, 54 people had been killed.

The military overthrew the government in May last year after months of anti-government demonstrations, appointing General Prayuth Chan-ocha as premier. He abolished the constitution and promised to reform the political system before an election in 2016.

The draft constitution must be approved by the National Reform Council, a military-appointed body in charge of overhauling the political system.

On Thursday, Puea Thai Party member Surapong Tovichakchaikul slammed the committee’s decision on the premiership issue. “If MPs are that bad, it's better not to have them at all,” he said, according to the Post.

Surapong, whose party was in government before May’s coup, warned of the consequences of a constitution that restricted the powers of elected politicians. “At the end of the day a charter will be eventually endorsed by the NRC [National Reform Council]," he said. "But confidence will not be restored and the international community will not accept it.”

 

Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2015, 15:42
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