No Red Shirt move on charter amendment


BANGKOK, Feb 22 – The red-shirt movement, or United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), on Wednesday pledged that the group will not mobilise its supporters to support the charter amendment as a joint sitting of parliament is scheduled to considere the three drafts on Thursday.

UDD chair Thida Thavornsreth announced the Red Shirt’s stance amidst speculation that opponents and proponents of the constitutional amendment will stage protests tomorrow while parliament works on the three charter amendment drafts.

The drafts include those proposed by the government, the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the Chart Thai Pattana Party.

Ms Thida said people could express their views at their will as they pleased, but urged UDD supporters to stay calm and exercise restraint against any provocation which could create conditions leading to a possible coup.

She also urged police to maintain law and order without discrimination against any groups and prevent any confrontation outside the parliament.

As the rival yellow-shirt movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) issued a statement opposing the charter amendment and threatened to file charges against MPs who endorse the drafts, Red Shirt key leader Jatuporn Prompan said the move by lawmakers to amend the charter is constitutional.

Mr Jatuporn, also the Pheu Thai party-list MP, insisted the charter amendment would not benefit ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra nor address any issues concerning the monarchy.

The Pheu Thai MP also urged the Democrat Party not to disrupt the house session after it had earlier vowed not to engage with the charter amendment.

The three drafts to be considered in the joint sitting proposed the amendment on Article 291 seeking to form a 99-member National Drafting Assembly consisting of 77 elected members from Thailand’s 77 provinces and another 22 appointed experts, where each draft is slightly different on the proportion of experts.

The NDA, once formed, will consider which issue will be amended, but one point every draft has in common is that there would be no revision to the constitutional monarchy system.

Meanwhile, the PAD movement on Wednesday announced that it will file charges against MPs and senators who endorsed the charter amendment drafts, and threatened to stage a protest of the charter amendment if it was found to affect the monarchy.

PAD leaders Sondhi Limthongkul, retired-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Pipob Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Panthep Puapongpan and Saranyu Wongkrajang jointly held a news conference condemning the move to amend the charter.

The PAD said it will mobilise its supporters immediately if found that the charter amendment affects the structure of the country’s royal institution or provided amnesty to politicians and their allies.

The group said they will also call a meeting of yellow-shirted supporters nationwide on March 10 to prepare for the anti-charter amendment campaign.

When asked about the planned date of rally against the charter amendment, Mr Somkiat said the March 10 meeting will decide their next move.