News Update : The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) draws roadmap to restore democracy News

News Update : The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) draws roadmap to restore democracy

National elections in Thailand could be held in roughly 15 months if a new roadmap to promote national reconciliation, initiate reforms and restore democracy proceeds smoothly over the next year, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said in a nationally televised speech last week.

“Thailand and the Thai people are still facing many problems that require immediate attention and solutions.  In the past, enough time has been wasted through conflicts. It is time for us to move forward for the benefit of the country,’’ General Prayut said.

The general detailed a three-phase roadmap that he believes can provide a pathway out of the political and social turmoil that has plagued Thailand since last October.  The military intervened after nearly seven months of conflict that resulted in 28 people killed in politically motivated violence and over 700 wounded.  The political impasse also inflicted damage to the economy, although most analysts have said Thailand’s fundamentals are strong and so economic losses should be only short term.

The first phase of the roadmap will focus on attempts to foster national reconciliation and should last two to three months, according to General Prayut.  Ensuring security and normal administration of the country will be a priority during this period.  This includes having the pending budget disbursed and the new budget passed so as to implement various economic stimulus measures, including infrastructure development. 

At the same time, the NCPO will also establish reconciliation centers in the various provinces to develop “central and rural reforms.”  Dialogue will be promoted at the family, village, district, provincial and national levels, the NCPO leader said.  He also indicated that participation would be entirely voluntary and no amnesties will be granted to those who broke laws.

An attempt by the previous government last October to pass an amnesty bill that would have wiped the slate clean for people involved in corruption and violent crimes, as well as those arrested for political offenses, sparked the national conflict.

The second phase will see the enactment of a temporary constitution, and the formation of a legislative council that will select an interim prime minister and cabinet.  At the same time, a reform council will be assembled to develop measures acceptable to all sides that should put political conflicts to rest and return the country to normal levels of political competition.  This phase will take approximately one year.

The final phase will be national elections under a democratic system accepted by all.

General Prayut said this timetable could be sped up if peace and security prevail throughout the Kingdom.  But if protests and conflicts continue, then the roadmap will not succeed.  He called on all Thais to cooperate and participate in the process so that the country’s problems can be solved.

The general reiterated that the military felt compelled to act because of spiraling violence, a heightened loss of trust in the government and the breakdown of the rule of law.

Appealing to Thais to join together, General Prayut said, “[the military] does not want power for our own benefit.  It was because the country could not move forward.  Please trust our intentions.  Please give us time to resolve the problems.  After we have achieved our mission, the military will go back to our duties.  Our country must come first.’’