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Political leaders agree to join discussions on reforms

Nov 18. 2017
Anek Laothamatas
Anek Laothamatas
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KEY figures from five parties have agreed to hold discussions with the political reform committee to help draft the national reform plan in line with the legally binding 20-year national strategy.

Abhisit Vejjajiva (Democrat Party), Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan (Pheu Thai), Nikorn Chamnon ( Chartthai Pattana), Anutin Charnvirakul (Bhumjaithai) and Suwat Liptapanlop (Chart Pattana) are all set to meet with the committee next week.

Anek Laothamatas, president of the junta-appointed committee, said yesterday that his panel would seek the politicians’ opinions before finalising the first draft of their political reform plan.

Among issues to feature highly in the discussions, Anek said, would be meritocracy, fair elections, building a political culture and public participation under the constitutional monarchy, conflict resolution by peaceful means, unity building, decentralisation in local governance and a fair distribution of resources.

The talks would also fall under the national reforms required in the 2017 charter, he added.

The Constitution requires that the current junta-backed government work on the long-term national strategy to “set goals” for the country. It will abide by future governments, who will have to report to Parliament on their follow-up on the strategy plan.

Any government that fails to do so could risk legal punishment.

The government has established a strategy committee, involving several Army generals, as well as several reform committees, with many members who have a record of working with previous junta-appointed bodies. Rames Ratanachaweng

Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy spokesperson Rames Ratanachaweng called for the junta to once again seek ways for political parties affected by the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more people.

The order, which has been enforced since the 2014 coup, has severely hampered political parties, including preparing themselves for the new political bill.

PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha has previously said the ban would remain despite the fact that the bill requires specific deadlines for parties to follow since its enactment last month

Prayut then promised that “one way or another” the deadlines could be expanded either by the parties making special requests to not-yet-appointed registrars or by him invoking his special powers under Article 44.

However, Rames said yesterday that political parties were still powerless because the Election Commission had also said that it could not allow parties to follow the bill’s Article 141 since the ban was still in place.

Article 141 requires that all parties notify changes of members in their registration lists within 90 days of the law being enacted, or October 7. “It is more than 40 days and they should provide more clarification,” he added.

Meanwhile, Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd yesterday urged |people to “stop speculating” about the Cabinet reshuffle and to have faith in Prayut, who had handpicked the new Cabinet members. “Guessing will only discourage those ministers and the government,” Sansern said.

Prayut said on Friday that he had finalised his Cabinet list and it was in the process of seeking royal endorsement. He expected everything to be settled by next month.

Though the official list has not yet been publicised, there has been some speculation, mostly concerning generals who are ministers and those related to the economy.

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