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Archive for Sunday, October 1, 2006

Thailand council announces new rules

October 1, 2006

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— Thailand's ruling military announced an interim constitution today that was to be followed by the naming of a prime minister to head the country for the next year.

The announcement was made on television stations after King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed the document.

The military abolished a 1997 constitution after seizing power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup Sept. 19. The new rulers say the previous constitution had too many "loopholes" that allowed Thaksin and his cronies to abuse power and engage in widespread corruption.

Under the new interim constitution, the council gave itself the power to remove the incoming government's prime minister and Cabinet members, to approve the selection of a National Assembly speaker and to have final say on a 100-member committee that will write the next constitution.

The interim document also gives "complete immunity" to the coup leaders for overthrowing the government.

Col. Akara Thiprot, a spokesman for the ruling military council, said the new prime minister would be announced later today. It is widely believed to be former army commander Gen. Surayud Chulanont, a respected retired officer who has served as a close adviser to the constitutional monarch.

The new government is expected to press ahead with investigations into alleged corruption by Thaksin and his government. On Saturday, the council replaced an earlier committee to investigate and freeze assets of the former government with a high-powered 12-member panel.

One recent study reportedly estimated that systematic corruption by Thaksin's government deprived state coffers of some $11.9 billion.

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