World

Thai Parliament approves new king's constitution changes

BANGKOK: Thailand's military-backed Parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to make amendments to the constitution as suggested by the new king's office, a move likely to delay a general election scheduled for year end.

The military-backed constitution is a key part of the junta's plans to hold an election to return Thailand to democratic rule following a 2014 coup.

The draft constitution was approved in a referendum last year and has been awaiting endorsement by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne last month after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was adored by Thais during his 70-year reign.

Promulgation of the charter, which was forwarded to the palace for royal endorsement in November, is expected next month.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday said the office of King Vajiralongkorn had asked for changes to clauses related to royal power in the draft constitution, a rare intervention by a sitting Thai monarch.

To make those changes, the National Legislative Assembly has to first amend the interim constitution.

Of 231 assembly members, 228 voted in favour of the changes with three members abstaining, according to a televised session of the vote.

The assembly also made changes that allowed the king to travel overseas without having to appoint a regent to rule in his stead.

King Vajiralongkorn travelled frequently while he was crown prince and has spent a significant amount of his adult life in Germany where he has a home.

Mr Somjet Boonthanom, a Member of Parliament, said it was likely that elections would take place next year.- REUTERS

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