AP: “Thai Parliament takes first step toward contentious constitutional change”

The AP reported yesterday:

A joint session of Thailand’s Parliament has taken the first contentious steps toward revising the country’s constitution, implemented after a 2006 military coup.

After two days of debate, lawmakers on Saturday approved by a 399-199 vote measures that call for establishment of a constitution drafting assembly.

Divisions over whether the constitution should be revised mirror the split in Thai society since the 2006 coup that ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, with opponents threatening to fight any amendments.

Constitutional change is favored by the current government led by Thaksin’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and opposed by the opposition Democrat Party. The government says changes are needed to make the charter more democratic. The 2007 constitution was approved by a popular referendum, but was drafted by backers of the coup and pushed through with pressure from the military.

Those against change say the amendments are intended to pave the way for Thaksin to return home from overseas exile without having to serve time for a corruption conviction.

(All emphasis mine.)

Update: The WSJ has a story today that begins:

A fragile détente between Thailand’s powerful armed forces and a populist government led by the younger sister of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra is looking increasingly fragile after the country’s parliament Saturday began moves to change the country’s military-backed constitution.

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