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Thailand’s PAD to rally if govt moves to amend charter


August 4, 2008

Thailand’s PAD to rally if govt moves to amend charter
A core leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) threatened Sunday that his group will hold a major rally within a week of any government motion calling for constitutional amendments, reported the Thai News Agency (TNA) on Sunday.

TNA quoted the core leader, retired Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, as saying that PAD adherents will gather again at Makkawan Bridge near Government House where the protestors continue their vigil demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

Emphasising that the present charter, drafted by military appointees after the September 2006 coup, should continue to be used and not amended now in enable some persons escape from legal punishment, he said said that the PAD not only opposed amending Article 63, involving protests, but that it is against amending the entire charter.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on his weekly radio programme had charged that the PAD’s ulterior motive is to oppose rewriting Article 63.

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Government whip Samart Kaewmeechai said on Friday that he would move to amend the 2007 Constitution after August 18. He said the government will wait for a special House committee studying enforcement of the charter, chaired by legal expert Kamol Thongthammachart, to complete its work before submitting its motion.

The government’s plan to move ahead to amend the charter worries academics as several have voiced concerns that widespread civil disorder could erupt due to difference in opinions among the people.

Dr Prinya Thewanaruemitkul, a law lecturer at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, said it will be difficult for Thai society to avoid bloodshed in the foreseeable future, and that if it happens it would cause long-term damage.

The only way out is for everybody to respect rules and deny violence, Mr. Prinya said.

The government must not propose a charter amendment, but let a special House Committee do the job, said Dr Prinya, advising that before it is submitted to the House, a referendum should be held.

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