Thailand's military government has appointed a new body to draft a fresh constitution after a first version was rejected. The long drafting process for the document means elections will be delayed until at least 2017.
The new 21-member committee was appointed on Monday, a month after the military juntarejected a previous version of the charter
drawn up by another body it had selected.
The junta also set up a 200-member body that will be charged with giving the committee feedback and voting on the draft.
The constitution drafting panel - made up of lawyers, academics, civil servants and members linked with the military - is to start work immediately. It has six months to come up with the draft, which will then need approval by the junta-appointed legislature before being put to a referendum.
It is being headed by Meechai Ruechupan, the former president both of the Senate and the Council of State and an adviser to the junta.
The previous draftmet strong opposition
from almost all sides of Thailand's political spectrum, largely because it accorded considerable influence to the military over the executive and legislative branches in cases of "crisis" - a word that lacked precise definition in the charter.
Critics say that the process of drafting a constitution is being deliberately drawn out so that the army remains in power for as long as possible, with promised elections now delayed until at least 2017, according to deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
They also accuse the junta of wanting a constitution that gives the military undue influence in the political sphere.
The Thai military seized power in a coup in May 2014 after the country had experienced months of political unrest. One of its first acts was to scrap the existing constitution and begin writing another.
tj/msh (Reuters, dpa)