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Politics

Thai constitutional changes would mean no regent required: media reports

Junta-appointed assembly to begin discussing revisions as soon as this week

BANGKOK -- Thailand's king has proposed amending the current interim constitution to remove the obligation that he appoint a regent while abroad or incapacitated, with similar changes sought for a draft constitution approved last year.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has requested language be added to the constitution stipulating that the king "shall or shall not" appoint a regent should he travel abroad or be unable to perform his duties, according to The Nation, a local English-language newspaper, which cited a draft of the amendment circulated by Thai media outlet Isra News. Other Thai media have carried similar reports. The country's junta imposed the interim charter after a 2014 coup. 

According to The Nation, a spokesperson for the National Legislative Assembly has confirmed similar changes are to be made to Thailand's draft constitution, which was approved in a referendum last August and submitted for royal approval in November. The assembly, which has been appointed by the military government, will begin deliberating these changes to the interim charter as soon as this week alongside revised language permitting the draft constitution to be changed. A provision stating that the king's privy council shall appoint a regent if the monarch himself does not will need to be changed as well.

This would free the monarch of the constitutional obligation to appoint a regent, The Nation reported. Vajiralongkorn would thus be able to conduct state affairs from abroad. The king spent long stretches of time in Germany, where his son is studying, before taking the throne, and has traveled there twice since the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in October.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha revealed Tuesday that Vajiralongkorn had sought revisions to the draft constitution. Making the requested changes will likely delay a general election planned for the end of 2017 -- a critical step in returning Thailand to civilian rule.

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