Thai military dominates appointments to new Senate

Under an army-backed constitution, which was approved in Thailand's first-ever referendum last year, only 76 senators will be elected in polls set for March 2.

The 74 were appointed by a seven-member committee headed by the military-installed chief of the Constitutional Court. Other committee members include top judges and anti-corruption officials.

The ranks of the appointed senators are heavy on retired soldiers and police, as well as lawmakers who served in the parliament chosen by the military after the 2006 coup against then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Fourteen of the new senators are soldiers or police generals, and eight are from the former junta's parliament, Election Commission secretary general Suthiphon Thaweechaiyagarn told reporters.

The rest include representatives of different professions, including the media, health care, business and agriculture. Twelve of the appointees are women, he added.

The pro-Thaksin People Power Party, which swept to victory in December polls, has blasted the Senate selection process as undemocratic and vowed to amend the constitution so that all seats will be elected.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who won office by openly campaigning as a proxy for Thaksin, has said he will work to amend the constitution in the last years of his four-year term.

Thaksin has lived in exile since the coup but has indicated that he will return by May to defend himself against corruption charges filed by army-backed authorities.

Source: Yahoo News!

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