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Thailand high court to rule on constitutional amendment process

Thailand's Constitutional Court agreed on Wednesday to hear a challenge to the process by which parliament amends the constitution. The court refused to grant an injunction [Bangkok Post report] on the existing petitions before parliament, as the senator who brought the challenge was seeking. The key provision before parliament would change Article 68 [text] of Thailand's constitution to prevent individuals from directly petitioning the high court and would instead need to go through the attorney general. Because the court did not grant the injunction on the vote, it will be held Wednesday night. In the meantime, senators have been given 15 days to respond to Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn's petition against the amendment process. The court's ruling is expected to follow. Supporters of the process claim it is essential for the separation of powers. Opponents claim the court merely accepting Sawaengkarn's petition overstepped their power.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Puea Thai party is attempting to amend the constitution which was drafted by a military-appointed government after the 2006 coup which forced her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] into exile. Last July the Constitutional Court dismissed opposition party petitions [JURIST report] challenging the Puea Thai party's ability to amend the country's constitution. The court ruled that the parliament could amend the constitution on a piecemeal basis by amending separate articles, but that a national referendum would be required to rewrite the entire charter.

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