New polls to be called after constitution amendments: Thai PM

19:32, November 11, 2010      

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said a fresh general election would be called after amendments of two key issues in the constitution are completed.

The two issues are among a set of six key issues that have been proposed by politicians and academics for amending the constitution.

In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Abhisit said the two issues as "most urgent", adding "We will leave other issues for the next government."

Abhisit said his government wanted to change the electoral system from the current multi-seat constituency to a single-seat one.

It will also raise the total number of members in the House of Representatives to 500 from the current 480.

Out of the 500, 375 will come from constituency representation while the other 125 from party-list representation.

In the current House, 400 members are elected from constituencies while 80 are party-list representatives.

Party-list candidates usually are technocrats who are not keen on electoral campaigns, but whose expertise is needed by the party in administering the government.

The proposed amendments want to raise the number of party-list members in drawing more capable experts in various fields into politics, Professor Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who leads a committee appointed by Abhisit to study the constitutional amendments, told Xinhua earlier.

The other issue of the planned amendments aims to make it easier for the government to enter into bilateral or multilateral agreements by drafting a separate new bill that clearly specifies the types of agreements that need parliamentary approval.

The current constitution virtually requires the government to seek approval from the bicameral parliament for any bilateral or multilateral agreements, hamstringing the government in its foreign policy arena.

Abhisit said that he is ready to call a fresh election after these two issues of amendments are settled "so long as things are stable no bomb, no violence."

Street protests of the anti-government red-shirt movement in central Bangkok in April and May this year led to 91 people killed and a large number of people injured. Bombs are still being found in the capital and other provinces since the rallies were called off on May 19.

The red-shirts, officially known as the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, have said it planned to stage a major rally in Bangkok on Nov. 19 to mark the passing of six months since the military cracked down their protests in May.

Asked for his views on Thai politics in the next few months, Abhisit said: "I hope to see continued stability."

The Thai prime minister said he hoped that the Constitution Court would provide clear reasoning for its upcoming verdict on the future of his Democrat Party and his own political future.

The party is awaiting a verdict of the court to have it disbanded or not after it was accused by the Election Commission ( EC) of misusing 29 million baht (967,000 U.S. dollars) of EC contribution fund in its political campaigns for a general election in 2005.

If the party is dissolved, a new government will need to be formed as Abhisit, along with other executives of his party, will be banned from politics for five years under the current constitution.

The Constitution Court has set Nov. 29 to hear a closing statement of the party, which has already submitted the statement in writing. The court could as soon as on the same day deliver its verdict on the case.

Abhisit said he hoped the court would "spell out very clearly" the facts and legal points it applied in reaching the verdict.

"So whatever decision it reaches is reached on the merit of the case," he said in the interview.

He said if the court could deliver such a judgment, "that is the best protection you can have for the system."

Asked how long he planned to stay in politics, Abhisit said he would stay "as long as I'm wanted".

Source: Xinhua(By Sinfah Tunsarawuth)


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