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Thousands march against Thailand draft constitution as referendum nears

[JURIST] At least 10,000 supporters of Thailand's former ruling party protested Wednesday against a proposed draft constitution [JURIST report], as an August 19 national referendum looms. Members of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's dissolved Thai Rak Thai party (TRT) [JURIST report] also appeared at the Bangkok rally, organized by the People Power Party, to speak out against the current military-backed government, which seized power in a September 2006 coup [JURIST report]. The proposed constitution was criticized for decreasing populist influence and transferring more power to bureaucrats and the military. Speakers alleged that martial law, which remains in effect in predominately rural areas where Thaksin enjoyed popular support, has prevented the opposition from campaigning on its objections to the draft. Organizers estimated as many as 100,000 were in attendance.

The rally follows a march [JURIST report] earlier this week in support of the draft constitution, organized by interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile] and attended by tens of thousands of people. If approved, the constitution could pave the way for general elections in December. If the draft constitution is rejected, military leaders are authorized under the interim constitution [JURIST report] to revise an earlier constitution. AFP has more.

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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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