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Thailand king approves interim constitution, absolves coup leaders
Thailand king approves interim constitution, absolves coup leaders

[JURIST] King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand [JURIST news archive] Sunday approved a new 39-article constitution for the country drawn up by the military leaders who seized power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a September 19 coup [JURIST report]. The new charter provides for a civilian government but, as anticipated [JURIST report], preserves the military's say in policy through a Council for National Security [Bangkok Post backgrounder] which, among other things, has the power to dismiss the administration. It purports to guarantee fundamental human rights and establishes an assembly of 2000 eminent Thais to draw up a new permanent constitution for the country. Article 37 of the interim document provides an explicit amnesty for the coup leaders for overthrowing the regime established under the previous constitution [text], which was said to contain "loopholes" facilitating corruption.

Shortly after the new constitution was announced, retired general Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile; official website] was named as the new prime minister. Military officials have suggested it will take about nine months to draw up the long-term constitution, with a national referendum and elections to follow. AP has more. Asian Tribune has additional coverage and the Thai News Agency has local coverage in English.