The new Thai National Assembly was opened on Friday (28 December) by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.?
The new Thai National Assembly was opened on Friday (28 December) by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Diplomats joined the 299 delegates in the Parliament building as the King made his traditional appearance from behind silk curtains.
In his speech from the throne, the King reminded the delegates that they faced a difficult task in drawing up a new democratic constitution, following the overthrow of army rule last October. His Majesty laid particular stress on the need to enable the entire nation to play a bigger role in running the country.
The new Thai Assembly includes citizens from all walks of life. The armed forces are still represented, though they are outnumbered by civil servants, farmers, businessmen and students. Among the delegates are many civic and political leaders who have in the past been strongly critical of military intervention in political affairs.
Thailand was under military rule almost without a break from 1932, when the armed forces seized power. The military government fell three months ago after student demonstrations in which hundreds of people were killed.
The new Assembly was elected by 2343 members of a national convention formed to restore democratic rule. Its main task will be preparation of a new constitution - about the 12th in some 30 years - which will pave the way for free elections, possibly late next year.