February 18, 2017 1:39 am JST

Revised Thai draft charter awaits royal approval

Despite quick turnaround, election not expected until 2018

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

BANGKOK -- Thailand's military government on Friday submitted a revised version of the country's draft constitution for royal approval, setting in motion once again a return to civilian rule, a process that has been beset with delays.

It is not clear what exactly has been changed, though the provision for the appointment of a regent is thought to have been altered, among others. King Maha Vajiralongkorn in January requested changes to parts of the draft charter touching on his royal powers. It is unusual for a Thai monarch not to approve such a charter as written.

The king now has 90 days to sign off on the revised document. Once the constitution takes effect, the government can begin creating laws necessary to hold a general election. If the draft charter is not approved, another will need to be created from scratch.

When the request for changes was first announced, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha predicted that revisions would take several months to complete. But a committee appointed to the task kept that down to around a month.

This aimed to minimize disruptions to a timeline that originally had an election being held at the end of this year. But that is now widely expected to slip to 2018, given national events such as the elaborate cremation ceremony for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October, and the coronation of the current king -- the son who ascended to the throne in December -- scheduled for the end of 2017.

The original draft constitution was submitted for royal approval last year, following its approval in a national referendum in August.

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