August 17, 2015 / 10:09 AM / 4 years ago

Ousted former Thai PM criticizes draft constitution

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Ousted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra raised questions on Monday about a constitution drafted by military rulers, adding her voice to a chorus of concern over provisions in the charter that critics say is undemocratic.

Ousted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sits in a van as she leaves the Supreme court in Bangkok, Thailand, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

A junta-appointed National Reform Council (NRC) is due to vote in September on whether to accept or reject the draft constitution, with a rejection meaning more work and a delay in an election the military has promised for late 2016.

The draft is due to be presented to the NRC on Saturday though parts of it have been published.

Yingluck, a populist prime minister who was forced from office last year after months of street demonstrations backed by the establishment, questioned the draft in comments on her Facebook page.

“Many sides have expressed concern and worry,” she wrote.

“A democratic constitution must be closely linked to the public and give importance to the people in decision-making,” she said.

Thai politics has been riven for a decade by a struggle between ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s older brother, and the Bangkok-based royalist-military establishment, which see Thaksin as a threat.

Critics say the newly drafted charter is aimed at, among other things, preventing a political comeback by Thaksin and his political machine, that has won every election since 2001.

Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup after being accused of corruption and disrespect to the king. He denied that but has lived in self-imposed exile since 2008, when he was convicted of corruption. He said the conviction was politically motivated.

Yingluck’s government was overthrown in a coup last year and critics of the military government that replaced it say the charter will enshrine power for the military and its establishment allies through a largely unelected upper house Senate and provisions for an unelected prime minister.

The draft includes a proposal for a “national committee on reform and reconciliation strategy” dominated by the military that allows the security forces to intervene in a crisis.

“I don’t think there is a need to have a board that dominates the government and legislature in order to make decisions, even in times of crisis,” said Yingluck.

The government has promised an election in 2016 but warned that it could be delayed until 2017 if the draft charter is rejected.

On Saturday, Thaksin’s Puea Thai Party also criticized the draft saying it did not “recognize the sovereignty of the people” and would do little to reconcile a divided country.

Editing by Robert Birsel

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