Thai panel drops plan to ban junta from politics for two years

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A panel appointed by Thailand's military government to draft a constitution said on Friday it would drop a proposal to ban members of the junta from politics for two years to prevent them from holding on to power.

But it would include a clause stopping panel members from politics for two years in a bid to avoid conflict of interest.

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) had proposed the ban for members of five bodies, including the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which took power after last May's coup.

Members of the junta decried the planned ban.

Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a member of the constitution drafting committee, said it had decided in a meeting to ban 36 members of the CDC from politics but not the remaining four bodies.

"The clause will prevent the CDC from taking up any political position from the day that they leave or after the new constitution is endorsed," he told reporters.

The CDC includes academics, lawyers and former lawmakers hand-picked by the junta last year. Many of them are perceived to be pro-establishment.

Criticism of the draft constitution has been growing. Among the more contentious points is a proposal to make the 200-member upper house Senate unelected.

Under the draft, the prime minister will also not have to be an elected lawmaker, changes critics say are designed to give voters less power.

The army seized power to restore order after months of street protests. It tore up a 2007 constitution and rolled out an interim constitution that gives the military sweeping powers.

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