[JURIST] The new constitution of Thailand [JURIST news archive] will be finalized and ready to face a referendum by July 6, according to an announcement Friday from the Constitutional Drafting Committee. The 35-member committee began work on the document on Friday and project that a first draft will be complete by April 15. A final draft will be sent to the Constitutional Drafting Assembly in June. The Drafting Committee will work in three groups, each with a separate area of focus: rights and public participation in government, political parties and institutions, and the judiciary and independent bodies. Thailand is presently governed by an interim constitution [JURIST report] imposed by the military leaders who seized power from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a September 19 coup [JURIST report]. After the establishment of a Constitutional Drafting Council [JURIST report] in January, a six-month deadline was set for preparation of the new constitution. Bernama has more.
Also on Friday, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej [official profile] approved the lifting of martial law [JURIST report] in Bangkok and 40 other provinces, six weeks after the cabinet's decision [JURIST report] to do so. Martial law will continue in the remaining 35 provinces, however, including the northern region from which Thaksin hails and the largely Muslim southern region, where nearly 2,000 people have died in sectarian violence since 2004. Reuters has more. The Bangkok Post has local coverage.