Both pro-establishment and pro-democracy demonstrations are scheduled to assemble in front of the Parliament House of Thailand in the capital today, November 17, to closely monitor a special parliament session involving a potential decision on seven potential draft amendments of the Thai constitution.
The constitutional drafts to be discussed at the second annual general meeting will include five drafts from the opposition parties, one draft from the governing party, and one draft from “the people”.
The “People’s Draft” is presented by the non-profit organization ‘iLaw’ and signed and agreed by 98,041 Thai pro-democracy people who have the right to vote. The proposed draft has mentioned crafting a new charter, electing new members of constituent assembly from an official election, and eradication of the senator structure appointed and favored by the military-based government under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha.
It is worth noting the draft does not specifically change any section, according to iLaw, but gives future elected officials the power to vote on future amendments to all sections of the Constitution. The other drafts forbid changing sections of the Constitution relating to the Monarchy, which is why this particular draft is so controversial to some parties.
The session began at 9:00 AM. when a group of yellow-shirted people had gathered close to the parliament, opposing all charter amendments, supporting the Prime Minister, and calling for the preservation of the monarchy-related laws.
Dr. Warong Detgitvigrom, the leader of The Thai Pakdee (Loyal Thai) group, told the associated press that the change of all the constitutional drafts will only lead to another political crisis and to revive the “parliamentary dictatorship”.
The leader said: “We, the Thai Phakdee Group, strongly disagree in accepting all 7 draft constitutional amendments. We believe it will only lead to a political crisis like in previous times since they will bring the 1997 or 2007 constitution to form a dictatorship in Parliament.”
“We think that the 2017 constitution is very useful as it allows many new political parties and new MPs to participate in the Parliament. The amendments aim to benefit certain politicians only, so we are against all seven drafts of constitutional amendments.”
Warong has also submitted a letter of objection to the constitutional amendments to Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, President of the Senate, at around 10.00 AM. The group planned to disperse at noon, three hours before pro-democracy protesters will begin gathering in the same area at 3:00 PM.
Meanwhile, deployed security police have installed many lines of barbed wire fences and traffic barricades around the parliament after the pro-royalist supporters are gradually leaving the place. Water trucks are reportedly seen parking near the parliament to prepare for the pro-democracy rally this afternoon in case they are needed, according to authorities. Pro-Democracy protesters have stressed they are peaceful.
A nearby area in front of the Parliament has also declared a special controlled area within 50 meters, not allowing the protesters to do any activities at the destined area, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner.
The parliament session will be concluded at 6:00 PM. and the vote on the constitutional amendments will be conducted tomorrow, November 18, at 2:00 PM.
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