Monday, September 16, 2019
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PM goes, impasse stays

Posted by pakin On May - 8 - 2014

Yingluck, Niwatthamrong still face NACC rice pledging hurdle – PDRC pushes ‘final all-out battle’ forward to tomorrow

The charter court ruling which ousted Yingluck Shinawatra as caretaker prime minister may have averted violent confrontations between pro- and anti-government groups, but it has not broken the political deadlock as opponents of the government push forward with other legal challenges.

Former caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is surrounded by supporters who turned up to show moral support for her yesterday after the Constitutional Court ruled to remove her from office over her transfer of Thawil Pliensri as National Security Council chief. CHANAT KATANYU

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana yesterday said a meeting of caretaker cabinet ministers not affected by the ruling agreed to appoint caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan as acting caretaker premier, replacing Ms Yingluck.

The decision came after the charter court yesterday ruled to remove caretaker Ms Yingluck from office for violating the constitution in her transfer of Thawil Pliensri as secretary-general of the National Security Council in 2011.

The court also ruled that ministers who took part in the cabinet meeting on Sept 6, 2011 that passed the resolution to transfer Mr Thawil to the post of adviser to the prime minister also be removed from office.

Nine of them are in the current caretaker cabinet and they have been disqualified as a result of the ruling.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the ruling could ease political tensions since the court decided to hand down a judgment before the mass rallies of the rival camps take place.

But the court ruling disappointed the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

The PDRC had hoped the judges would throw out the entire Yingluck cabinet to pave the way for its proposed interim government and so-called “people’s council”.

In response, PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban brought the date of his “final all-out battle” against the government and the so-called Thaksin regime from next Wednesday to tomorrow.

He called on supporters last night to meet at Lumpini Park tomorrow at 9.09am. Once there is enough support, they would expand the rally to Ratchadamri and Henri Dunant roads, he said.

“This is the only chance we Thais have to rise up and celebrate our free spirit as the real owners of this country,” Mr Suthep said. He expressed confidence that by next Tuesday, the last remnants of the government would be gone. The PDRC rally is to take place before the mass protest by the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship on Utthayan Road on Saturday.

Despite the charter court’s ruling against Ms Yingluck yesterday, she is not out of the woods yet.

A source on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) said the agency will decide today whether Ms Yingluck should be indicted for dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme.

Mr Niwatthamrong could also face suspension by the NACC because he was directly involved in the rice programme.

Mr Phongthep said the cabinet meeting had agreed to proceed with plans for a new general election.

The government would seek a meeting with the Election Commission (EC) to discuss the matter tomorrow.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan, who led a group of senators petitioning the charter court for a ruling on Ms Yingluck’s status, said even if Mr Niwatthamrong has been appointed as acting caretaker premier, the post of prime minister is still vacant.

Therefore, he said such an appointment cannot stop the process to install a neutral interim prime minister to fill the vacant post, a process which should take no more than seven days.

Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn said he believed Mr Niwatthamrong will face complaints about him using his authority to forward a royal decree for a new election.

This is because Mr Niwatthamrong did not dissolve the House of Representatives on Dec 9 last year and he was not the person who issued the royal decree for the Feb 2 election.

But EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said Ms Yingluck’s removal from office will not affect the new poll.

Mr Supachai said the EC will proceed with the plan to hold the new poll on July 20, adding that whoever becomes the acting caretaker prime minister is duty-bound to submit a royal decree for the new poll for royal endorsement.

Speaking after the ruling, Ms Yingluck insisted she had worked honestly, had done nothing wrong, and had not violated the charter.

“I have worked for two years, nine months and two days. Every minute of it, I have been proud to have served as prime minister elected by the people,” she said.

Ms Yingluck refused to comment on whether she would wash her hands of politics for good.

“Things are happening very fast. It’s too early to answer this question,” she said.

What she regretted most is that she will not have a chance to serve the people, she said.

“From now on, no matter what status I have, I will continue to follow a path of democracy, and stick to the rule of law. Whatever position I will hold, I will always stand by all fellow Thais,’’ she said.

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