Thai parliament backs constitutional changes allowing king easier travel | News | DW | 13.01.2017
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Thai parliament backs constitutional changes allowing king easier travel

Thailand's military-ruled parliament has approved constitutional changes requested by the country's newly enthroned king. One change would allow the monarch to travel abroad without having to cede power temporarily.

Thailand's National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Friday voted overwhelmingly to allow changes to the constitution, a move set to delay a general election that was slated for the end of the year.

Completion of the constitution is a prerequisite for promised elections to take place and a draft version was approved in a referendum in August last year. The document had been waiting for endorsement by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took to the throne in December after the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thailand König Bhumibol Adulyadej (Getty Images/AFP/S. Khan)

Bhumibol reigned for decades and became a deeply revered figure

However, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday said that the office of King Vajiralongkorn had asked for several changes to be made to clauses related to royal power in the draft constitution.

"This is solely about royal power and is not concerning people's rights," Prayut had said.

The assembly is set to make changes that will allow the king to travel overseas without having to appoint a regent to rule in his place.

A home in Germany

King Vajiralongkorn traveled regularly while he was crown prince, spending much of his adult life abroad, especially in Germany of late. The king bought a villa in the picturesque Bavarian fishing village of Tutzing on the Starnberger See, not far from Munich, in the summer of 2016. 

The Thai parliament voted with 228 out of 231 saying they were in favor of making changes to the constitution, with just three abstentions.

The government must now make the necessary amendments, with the king to have 90 days to approve the changed document.

One member of the parliament, Somjet Boonthanom, told the Reuters news agency that elections - intended to restore democracy after a 2014 military coup - would now not be likely to take place this year. "The election will take place 15 months after the constitution is endorsed," Somjet told Reuters.

Both the military government and the Royal Household Bureau declined to elaborate on why the king had requested the changes.

In succeeding his father Bhumibol, who died on October 13 after more than seven decades on the throne, Vajiralongkorn follows in the wake of one of the most revered leaders in Thai history.

rc/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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