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Thailand king approves interim constitution, absolves coup leaders

[JURIST] King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand [JURIST news archive] Sunday approved a new 39-article constitution for the country drawn up by the military leaders who seized power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a September 19 coup [JURIST report]. The new charter provides for a civilian government but, as anticipated [JURIST report], preserves the military's say in policy through a Council for National Security [Bangkok Post backgrounder] which, among other things, has the power to dismiss the administration. It purports to guarantee fundamental human rights and establishes an assembly of 2000 eminent Thais to draw up a new permanent constitution for the country. Article 37 of the interim document provides an explicit amnesty for the coup leaders for overthrowing the regime established under the previous constitution [text], which was said to contain "loopholes" facilitating corruption.

Shortly after the new constitution was announced, retired general Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile; official website] was named as the new prime minister. Military officials have suggested it will take about nine months to draw up the long-term constitution, with a national referendum and elections to follow. AP has more. Asian Tribune has additional coverage and the Thai News Agency has local coverage in English.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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