Thailand’s ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra criticised a military-sponsored draft constitution and urged Thai voters to reject it in next month’s referendum, the Financial Times reported yesterday. In an interview from his London exile, Thaksin described the new charter as “fruit of the poisonous tree” and a “step back” for democracy.
He said it was less democratic than the “people’s constitution” adopted in 1997, and then abolished in last September’s military coup against his government.
The military-backed government is campaigning hard for voters to endorse the draft constitution in an August 19 referendum. That would be followed by elections and a handover of power to a new government by the end of the year. Thaksin told the Financial Times voters would prefer to have the 1997 constitution restored. It was drafted to clear up Thailand’s notorious money-driven politics, but was later blamed for allowing Thaksin excessive power.
The military has indicated the charter could be re-adopted, with amendments, should voters decline to support the new constitution.
“If voters reject the 2007 constitution, and the (military) is forced to use the constitution that they already tore up, that is going to be something,” the Financial Times quoted Thaksin as saying.
“Democracy will come back to Thailand.” Thaksin described the new charter as an act of “political revenge”.
“If they really need to ensure that I am not going back to politics, they can add one more clause — ‘disband Thaksin’,” he said.
“And they can put some of my DNA code in there to be sure that I do not change my name.”
Thaksin said he was relieved to be free of the burden of running the country and now spends his days “kicking around the London streets” and preparing to improve the performance of Manchester City, his recently acquired Premier League soccer team.