Prayut won’t quit over charter

Thai “red shirts” protest in 2010. Political protests are thing of the past in Thailand. Source: Wikimedia

The Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has said that he would not resign if Thais reject his new constitution in a referendum on August 7.

“I won’t resign. I am the one who lays out the rules for this country,” Prayuth told the media, adding that there he was not like UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his resignation last Friday after losing his referendum on membership of the European Union. “It’s a different story. Why, do you want me to leave or what? He [Cameron] didn’t come to power like me. Their country doesn’t have the same problems as ours.”

Prayut heads the National Council for Peace and Order that took power after a coup toppled Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014.

The Pheu Thai party suggested he resign if the draft constitution did not pass.

The military has said it would carry out political and economic reforms before a general election in 2017 that will start a transition back to democracy.

Observers have denounced the draft as undemocratic, with one major political party calling its supporters to reject it.

The military-run authorities have banned criticism of the document ahead of the vote and the election commission last month issued rules barring anyone from campaigning on the issue.

Violators could be subject to a 10-year jail term.

Students opposed to the constitution were arrested last week for attempting to hand out “no” leaflets, while the government has said it is considering what to do about those using Facebook Live broadcasts to express opinions on the charter.

A Thai court jailed seven activists on Friday for campaigning against the constitution, which critics say will enshrine military power in the political system and emasculate civilian parties.

Amnesty International said on Friday that Thailand should end its crackdown on activists.

“These crude tactics represent the latest in series of attempts by the Thai military authorities to muzzle dissent,” said Champa Patel of the rights NGO. “If a small group of activists cannot hand out leaflets, then what hope is there that the rights to freedoms of expression and assembly will be respected in the run up to the referendum?”