Thailand promises swift return to democracy during address to UN debate

27 September 2006

Thailand will end martial law and return soon to democracy and, in the meantime, its interim constitution will provide full protection of civil liberties, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations told the General Assembly today, a week after a coup took place in the South-East Asian nation.

Khunying Laxanachantorn Laohaphan told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that he was grateful that last week’s events had been peaceful and that “the situation has returned to normal within hours.”

Promising that Thailand “will emerge as a stronger and more vibrant democracy,” Mrs. Laohaphan said the military leadership will ensure there is “a swift return to democracy with a definite timeline.

“An interim constitution will be promulgated in the coming days, with the military being placed under the constitution once more. This interim constitution will provide full guarantees for civil liberties and rights under the supervision of the National Human Rights Commission,” she said.

Mrs. Laohaphan said a civilian government is likely to be installed within days, followed by the end of martial law, the start of constitutional reform and eventually general elections within the next 12 months.

“It is the hope of the Thai people that as a result of constitutional reform, independent organizations to be re-established under the new constitution will become more effective in carrying out their tasks in checking and monitoring the work of the executive branch of government.”

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had been scheduled to address the high-level debate last week, but his appearance was cancelled following the coup.

Meanwhile, Timor-Leste’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Luis Guterres, told the Assembly earlier today that his Government was making progress on its programme to establish security, reform defence institutions, reconcile conflicting groups and promote good governance and economic development following the deadly violence that swept the country earlier this year.

“As political leaders of a young nation we acknowledge that not all decisions made were right and some created discontentment and were the source of demonstrations in April, May, June and July of this year,” he said.

Mr. Guterres said the Government will conduct a national dialogue “to recapture the confidence lost by our State institutions” during the unrest, adding it is also proceeding with reform of the national police force.

He added that Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta yesterday met with representatives of armed forces members who were dismissed earlier this year – in the move that sparked much of the violence – “to once again find a solution which is in conformity with the laws of Timor-Leste and is acceptable to the various parties involved in this situation.”


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