Opposition will boycott 3rd reading of draft charter amendment

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BANGKOK, June 11 – Thailand’s opposition parties on Monday vowed to not join the vote on the third reading of charter amendment draft if it is put on the agenda of tomorrow’s joint sitting of Parliament.

Opposition Chief Whip Jurin Laksanavisit announced his group’s position as the joint session of the Lower House and Senate is scheduled to take place on Tuesday amid concerns that the final vote on the amendment might proceed despite the order of the Constitution Court.

The court earlier ordered parliament to suspend deliberation of the amendment pending the court ruling on its constitutionality as petitioned by some MPs and senators.

Mr Jurin said if parliament decides to ignore the court order and pushes ahead with the vote, the prime minister will be in trouble, as the action’s legality remains uncertain, and she will have to forward the approved draft within 20 days for royal endorsement as stated by the law.

The opposition believes that the government whip is also hesitating whether the vote will violate the constitution or not, and whether the deliberation process will be considered as unlawful or not, according to the chief whip.

Mr Jurin however noted that the discussion of the court’s authority in tomorrow’s session is the intention of the ruling Pheu Thai Party to criticise the court’s role.

He said the opposition is concerned there will be a vote to decide whether parliament should follow the court order or not.

The opposition chief whip emphasized that the stance of the opposition is not to vote if that happens, and that they will also observe the situation before considering whether or not to walk out of the session.

Meanwhile, some senators have voiced concern over the Tuesday joint sitting and advised that the vote be postponed until the Consitution Court rules on the legality of the draft.

Sai Kangkavekin, senator from Rayong, proposed during today Senate session, that the prime minister should delay the voting as no one knows the impact from the violation of the court order, while fellow senator Monthien Boonthan said parliament should instead consider other bills which will not cause conflict.

In the latest development, key leaders of the yellow shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) petitioned the Constitution Court asking it to consider whether parliament’s deliberation on the amendment is lawful or not.

PAD leaders who turned up at court included retired Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Pipob Thongchai and Panthep Puapongpan.

PAD spokesman Panthep said the group decided to petition the court directly as the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) resolved not to forward the petitions earlier filed separately by six groups from both houses to the Constitution Court, saying the amendment was not aimed at overthrowing the constitutional monarchy as alleged.

Mr Panthep said the names of 416 persons accused of toppling the constitution were listed in the PAD petition and asserted that the court has authority to consider the case as the OAG did not do its duty.

Whatever the court ruling, Mr Panthep stated, the PAD will accept it.