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CHARTER AMENDMENT
  PPP begins first draft vet

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The People Power Party is vetting a first draft of charter amendments in order to return the political system to that sanctioned by the suspended 1997 constitution and to cut down the power of independent organisations, MP Sukhumpong Ngonkham said yesterday.

The main coalition party is expected to formally file a motion for constitutional changes later this month, he said.

The party's vetting process should be complete in time for coalition whips to debate the proposed changes by April 21 before reaching the House floor, he said.

He predicted that independent organisations, such as the Election Commission (EC) and the National Counter Corruption Commission, would be revamped in six months to a year following the enactment of amendments.

Planned amendments include:

Provisions relating to state policies will be overhauled to allow leeway for an elected government to set policies in accordance with campaign platforms.

The electoral system for MPs and senators will be changed completely back to the 1997 model.

The mandate for electoral supervision will also follow the 1997 model.

MPs will be allowed to hold political office.

The mandate for the judiciary, including the Courts of Justice, the Constitution Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, will revert to the 1997 model.

The ion process for officeholders in the judiciary and the independent organisations will adopt the 1997 model.

The new independent organisations sanctioned by the 2007 Constitution, such as the Office of the Attorney-General, are slated to lose their status and become a part of the bureaucracy under the government.

Punishment by party dissolution will be restricted only to three offences: overthrowing the system of constitutional monarchy, opposing democracy and threatening national security.
The penalty would not apply to electoral fraud.

Article 309, which confirms the amnesty granted to the Council for National Security and its decrees, will be revoked since the clause is deemed redundant to Article 149 of the 2006 interim constitution.

The amendments on independent organisations will cut the tenure of office-holders from nine years to four.

EC member Sumeth Upanisakorn said wryly he was ready to leave office tomorrow if government politicians wanted to revise the rules to get rid of him.

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