A self-described activist reads a banned 'Vote No' booklet at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center. (Source: AFP) 

Bangkok (VNA)
– The Thai Government said on July 22 that it will allow debates on the new draft constitution in all provinces nationwide ahead of the August 7 referendum.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will allow the debates which will be hosted by provincial authorities and the Election Commission in 76 provinces and cities.

The election commission also announced that TV debates on the new draft constitution among political parties and the Government’s representatives will be allowed.

The move came after members of political parties and a civil society coalition on July 20 stepped up calls for open talks on the draft constitution.

The civil society group, consisting of 117 individuals and 16 organisations, stressed the need for all stakeholders to be allowed to debate the contents of the charter and to have a safe public space to do so. The group also urged the government to come up with alternatives if the charter is rejected.

Prawit said that if the draft charter does not pass the referendum, the 2014 interim constitution would be amended and the NCPO would decide whether another constitution-drafting committee would be set up.

A general election would be held next year as planned, he affirmed.

According to the EC, the first TV debate on the draft constitution is due to be shot on July 22, and will be shown on ThaiPBS TV daily from 1pm-2pm from July 25-August 5. The debates is taped, not broadcast live.-VNA