Thai King gets parliamentary approval for amending Constitution

Bangkok, Jan 13 (IANS) Thailand’s parliament on Friday unanimously approved King Vajiralongkorn’s request to amend the constitution that was passed in an August 2016 referendum, and that the ruling military junta plans to enact this year.

In a three-hour parliamentary procedure, the monarch’s request was approved by 228 votes in favour and three abstentions, Efe news reported.

Neither the king nor the government have provided explanations for the constitutional changes desired by the monarch.

Officials also reported that the king wants to change the procedure for the appointment of a regent in case he is absent from the country.

The Prime Minister and head of the Thai military junta, Prayut Chan-ocha, said earlier this week that the amendment “does not affect the rights and freedoms of the people. It is only about the authority of His Majesty”.

The royal amendment request was lodged as the legal 90-day deadline for the king to endorse the constitution approved in last year’s referendum approached. The deadline is set for February 6.

The new constitution is part of the roadmap designed by the military junta to restore democracy in the country, with elections expected to be held later this year.

The draft was composed by a team of 21 members handpicked by the junta, and it serves to consolidate the power of the military and state bodies controlled by bureaucrats in the political sphere, while weakening the elected government.

This is the 20th constitution that Thailand has adopted since the end of its absolute monarchy in 1932.