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Thailand's ruling junta appoints group to write new constitution

The junta in Thailand assigned a newly-formed reform council

Share on Facebook October 6, 2014, Reporter : BigNewsNet/DW, Reader : 567

Thai Military Junta Photo:DW/dpa news

Thailand's military has selected a group of 250 people to help write a new constitution. The constitution is to take effect next July, reports the DW.

The junta in Thailand assigned a newly-formed reform council with the task of drafting a constitution for the nation that has been plagued with political unrest the past few years.

The new body, called the National Reform Council will work alongside the National Legislative Assembly. The new reform council consists of 250 members, 38 of which have served in the military.

Its candidates were chosen through applications from districts and nominations from the public. Military heads gave the final say of who would make up the council. Thailand's military rulers say that the drafting of the new constitution and its implementation by July next year will lead to elections.

A year of unrest

On May 22 this year, Thailand's military scrapped the old constitution after army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha seized power from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yingluck is the sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was also ousted in a military coup in 2006 and has been living in self-imposed exile since then.

Thaksin has also been accused of corruption and faces imprisonment on his return to Thailand. He is however adored by his supporters in the country's north and northeast who are also known as "Red Shirts." Thai nationals have profited from Thaksin's schemes for small business start-ups and healthcare for the poor, but he is seen as a threat by those who support the country's monarchy.

The new reform council's members are thus closer to Thailand's ruling elite under the country's king, 86-year-old Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thailand's king has no political role but is seen as a unifying figure and a moral force among his people.

Political analysts say the army is now likely to devise a more-limited form of democracy before allowing elections, which Gen. Prayuth has slated for the end of 2015. In this sense, this latest coup differs from the 2006 putsch, when the army quickly handed power back to a civilian administration. Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor at Japan's Kyoto University and a critic of the May coup, argues that the army's goal now is "to ensure that Thaksin's proxies will not be returning to politics again."

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