Key Features and Criticism
A draft of the interim charter was released on 27 September 2006, to much criticism. The drafter interim charter allowed the junta, which would be transformed into a permanent Council for National Security (CNS), to appoint an extremely powerful executive branch. The junta would also appoint a 250-member unicameral legislature. Other major concerns included:
- The lack of controls for the drafting of a permanent constitution. The CNS would appoint a 2,000-member National People's Assembly which would select 200 of its members to be candidates for the Constitution Drafting Assembly. The CNS would select 100 of those candidates for royal appointment to the Assembly; it would also select the Assembly head. The Assembly would then appoint 25 of its members as constitution writers, with the CNS directly appointing 10 writers. This process effectively gave the junta complete control over the drafting of the permanent constitution.
- The use of an old charter if the permanent constitution was not completed by a CNS-set deadline. The specific charter to revert to was not specified - the CNS and the Cabinet would choose which of Thailand's 16 previous charters to use.
- The lack of a clear timeline for a permanent constitution.
- The inclusion of King Bhumibol's theory of a self-sufficient economy in the preamble.
- The granting of legal authority for the junta's post-coup announcements and orders, including bans against demonstrations and political activities (Article 36).
- The granting of amnesty to the junta for executing the coup (Article 37).
- The inability of the public to file comments on parliamentary bills.
The draft's content as well as drafting process met with much public criticism. However, the interim charter did call for one democratic innovation: it required that a permanent constitution would have to be ratified by public referendum. Nonetheless, the referendum proposal too was condemned, as the junta would have complete authority to propose a permanent alternative constitution if the draft were to be rejected.
The draft interim charter was promulgated unchanged on 1 October 2006.
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