The Thai junta leader issued an order to suspend public officials suspected of involvement in documents campaigning against the junta-sponsored draft constitution.
The website of the Royal Gazette on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, published the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 44/2016.
The order suspends any public officials and local public administrators allegedly involved in anti-draft constitution letters from their posts.
According to the authorities, the letters, thousands of which were recently found and confiscated in the northern provinces of Lampang and Chiang Mai, were deemed illegal under the controversial Public Referendum Act because they contained distorted facts about the draft constitution.
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, invoked his authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter which gives him absolute power to maintain national security to issue the order.
Under the order, Boonlert Buranupakorn, President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation and former Chiang Mai mayor, is suspended from his post without pay. He is currently under investigation for allegations of involvement in the anti-draft charter letters
The Bangkok Post reported earlier that Boonlert has close ties with Yaowapa Wongsawat, one of Thaksin’s sisters, who is a powerful political figure in northern Thailand.
Tatsanai Buranupakorn, the current mayor of Chiang Mai, told Krungthepturakij News that he and Boonlert are not involved in the letters, adding that Boonlert is about to return to Thailand from a trip abroad.
Earlier on 23 July, police officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) arrested Wisarut Khunnitisan, 38, from a condominium in Bangkok and flew him to the northern province of Chiang Mai.
According to Kunpat Singhathong, a lawyer from Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), the arrest was made after the Provincial Court of Chiang Mai issued an arrest warrant on 22 July for Wisarut on a charge of violating Article 61 of the controversial Referendum Act for reportedly sending thousands of letters allegedly containing distorted facts about the junta-sponsored draft constitution.
Kunpat added that prior to the arrest of Wisarut in Bangkok, soldiers cited Section 44 of the Interim Charter which gives absolute power to the authorities in maintaining security, to arrest Wisarut’s parents and took them to Kawila Military Base in Chiang Mai.