[Update] Documents suggest issue of Prayut’s 8-years was discussed by charter drafting committee

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The contentious issue of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s 8-year term limit continues to be the talk of the town with the latest information suggesting that the term could be counted from when the general became premier after the coup in 2014.

Kanchanee Walayasevi, the leader of the Peace-Loving Thais group, on Wednesday revealed on her social media page documents which showed that the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) had a meeting to discuss this issue on September 7, 2018.

According to the documents, the meeting said that the clock for General Prayut’s 8-year term as prime minister may have started 3 months after the May 2014 coup. However, some of the CDC members also said that the clock started after HM the King countersigned the charter in 2017.

The 2016 charter was passed in a referendum on August 6, 2016, with more than 50% of the population voting in favor.

Goodbye Uncle

“Goodbye uncle and his supporters,” Kanchanee wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

“You wrote the charter so that you can stay in power for 8 years but it has been 8 years now and you want to stay longer than your people have written it but the evidence is clear that your term started on August 24, 2014,” she said.

Kanchanee was referring to the minutes from the meeting of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) that was chaired by Meechai Ruchupan as chairman and Supoj Khaimook as deputy chairman which she attached to her post.

The meeting was discussing the prime minister’s term and according to Supoj, the term started before the junta-drafted charter came into effect on April 6, 2017.

According to the constitution, a premier can only stay in power for up to a maximum of 8 years.

Opposition parties and Prayut’s critics argued that his premiership term started in August 2014, just 3-month after the coup that he led against the elected government of Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

However, coalition parties and Prayut’s supporters said that his tenure started when the current junta-drafted charter came into effect on April 6, 2017. This means that he would be able to serve until April 2025.

Apart from Supoj’s interpretation, Meechai also said that the interim charter which was being used before the 2017 charter came into effect had stated that the cabinet led by Prayut before the charter came into effect should be counted.

“The statement shows that even though the premiership started before the charter came into effect, the period should be counted as a premiership term,” the minutes of the meeting read.

Six opposition parties led by Pheu Thai Party’s leader Cholnan Srikaew said last week that they will file a petition to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on Prayut’s premiership term limit either on August 16 or 17, a week before August 24 when they believe Gen Prayut’s tenure should expire.

Kanchanee said that since there is clear evidence from the minutes of the CDC, there might be no need to ask the court to rule on it at all.

“What is the point of asking the court to interpret it?” she asked. “We can begin a nationwide celebration on August 24,” she said.

[Update] CDC’s Comments

Supoj told reporters on Wednesday that the documents were not secret documents as they were available in public libraries and they were only minutes of the meeting.

He said the comments that were made at the meeting were some of the opinions from the meeting which 30 people attended, not a collective decision of the meeting.

“The documents were minutes of a meeting, not a decision and it can be interpreted in many ways,” he said.

Supoj said that in his opinion, Prayut’s term should start from April 2017 which is in accord with his interpretation of the law but in the end, it will be up to the Constitutional Court to decide.


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