BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand’s new king has requested sections of the country’s draft constitution to be rewritten, the junta chief said Tuesday, a rare public intervention by the monarch in the kingdom’s politics.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, ascended the throne after the death in October of his much loved father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a unifying figure whose reign spanned seven politically turbulent decades.
Like most things regarding Thailand’s secrecy-shrouded monarchy, Vajiralongkorn’s approach to the crown remains a mystery and is not open to detailed scrutiny.
The country’s constitutional monarchy is granted limited formal powers but wields significant political clout behind the scenes and controls vast wealth.
It is also protected by a draconian lese majeste law, forcing media and the public to self-censor.
On Tuesday junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the king had declined to sign off on the new charter because of clauses concerning royal powers.
“His majesty’s private principle secretary has sent a letter to the government saying discussion is needed on the section of the charter regarding the monarchy,” the junta leader told reporters.
The document was drafted by the junta after its 2014 power grab and approved in a controversial referendum last year in which independent campaigning was banned.
“There are three or four points that need to be amended concerning his authority (as king),” Prayut said, adding that the revision process would take several months. A senior junta official later confirmed to reporters that the articles in question include five, 17 and 182.
The first two articles detail how the government should proceed in the event of a political crisis, plus the procedure for appointing a regent in the king’s absence.
The third article in question says that all laws and royal edicts concerning the state must be countersigned by a government minister.