Thailand's junta-appointed National Reform Council (NRC) has rejected proposed constitutional reforms denting the south-east Asian nation's plans to return to democracy. The plans were mothballed with 135 votes cast against and 105 people voting for the reforms. There were seven abstentions.
In the run-up to the voting several NRC members, who have close links to the country's military rulers, were lobbying for dismissing the reforms. The proposed charter had been criticised by politicians and commentators across the Thai political spectrum.
Those who had prepared the draft, however, hoped that proposals would pave the way for resolving the decades-long intense political conflict which Thailand is reeling under. The drafters are picked by junta's rulers.
One of the sticky issues in the draft plans was the establishment of a special committee, comprising members of the commanders of army, navy, police, and political leaders empowered with taking over the total control the country during the times of "national crisis". Critics have pointed out this would legally allow the panel to launch a coup against the ruling dispensation.
The military will retain substantial powers until a new constitution has been put in place. The main opposition party, Puea Thai Party, had earlier denounced the draft charter and said "it totally disregards the sovereignty of the Thai people".
Following the rejection of the draft, which had called for elections in 2016, the elections are not expected to be held until 2017. If the draft has been approved, it would have further strengthened the military's control over the country's politicians. Nonetheless, it has still bestowed the military with enormous powers temporarily until the new constitution comes info force.