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King of Thailand requests changes to draft constitution

Still in its drafting stage, King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) has reportedly requested that the new Thai constitution be adjusted in certain key areas.

The former constitution that was in place from 2007 to 2014 was suspended by the National Council for Peace and Order, the military junta that now currently controls the Thai government, upon their seizure of power. A new constitution is currently being drafted to replace it, and the people were offered a very tightly controlled referendum to authorise further changes last year. Criticism of the draft constitution and monitoring of the referendum were banned, and people campaigning against the constitution or indicating they’d vote against it were arrested.

The new constitution has faced much criticism for its reduction of Thai democracy and the sweeping powers it gives the military.

The current Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, has announced that he will honour the King’s requests in a letter to the junta. He made assurances that the King’s wishes in no way impacted the rights and freedoms of the people but were more concerned with the function and nature of the Monarchy and the Royal Household. Further details were not given.

“The requests said that there were three or four things that need fixing to ensure his royal powers,” he said.

Just four months into his reign, the move seems to suggest that King Rama X is flexing his royal authority in a rare display of political intervention by the Thai monarchy. Traditionally, although highly revered, the King of Thailand seldom interferes with political affairs and is seen to reign rather than rule in a manner similar to the British Monarchy.

As the concerns raised with the draft constitution are concerned solely with the role of the monarchy, it’s unlikely that the requested changes will cause much controversy.

Likewise, it is not expected that they will in any way disrupt the enactment of the constitution.

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