21 May 2015
The Election Commission of Thailand has been entrusted with arranging a national referendum on the draft constitution of Thailand.
The decision was made by a joint meeting of the Cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on 19 May 2015.
The meeting agreed that the 2014 Interim Constitution be amended to allow the organizing of the national referendum in the next step. After the passage of the draft constitution, the national referendum would take place immediately. The Prime Minister said that the amendment to the Interim Constitution had been proposed by the National Reform Council. The national referendum would also delay the timeframe of the roadmap set earlier for a general election.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the amendment to the Interim Constitution is likely to be carried out in June. The Cabinet and NCPO would propose that the National Reform Council vote to amend the Interim Constitution within 15 days. The Election Commission of Thailand will have to print the draft constitution for 47 million eligible voters to consider.
Mr. Wissanu said that the national referendum is expected to take place in January 2016. After the referendum, about four months will be needed for the process of drafting organic laws. Then a general election will be held within 90 days after the announcement of the organic laws.
The upcoming national referendum on the constitution will be the second of its kind in Thai history. The first referendum took place on 19 August 2007 for the 18th constitution of Thailand. It went smoothly in all parts of the country. Official results, announced on the following day by the Election Commission of Thailand, showed that out of 45 million eligible voters, 25.9 million cast their ballots on the referendum day. A total of 57.8 percent of voters chose to support the new charter, while 42.2 percent voted against it.
At the joint meeting of the Cabinet and NCPO on 19 May 2015, both sides also discussed efforts to continue to move the country toward stability, prosperity, and sustainability. Their joint efforts aim to maintain internal security and prevent conflicts. They also seek to mobilize the national administration for the maximum benefit of the people, plan for reform in the future, and amend laws to facilitate national administration.
Mr. Wissanu explained to the meeting that Section 44 of the Interim Constitution was recently used to solve problems concerning Thailand’s civil aviation industry, in order to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, as well as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It aims to complete certain tasks that would normally take considerable time to implement.
He reaffirmed that Section 44 had not been used in terms of judicial power, which is exercised through the courts.