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PM goes, impasse stays

Posted by pakin On May - 8 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

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.

Pheu Thai lambasts Abhisit proposal

Posted by pakin On May - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Pheu Thai lambasts Abhisit proposal.

The Pheu Thai Party yesterday rejected Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s plan for reform, coming up with its own plan, and promising a July 20 election.

In its statement, read by Pheu Thai strategist Bhokin Bhalakula, the party said only an election and justice would provide a solution to the country’s political crisis.

Mr Bhokin said the July 20 poll should go ahead, with parties proposing reform agendas in their campaigns leading up to the election.

After the election, all parties concerned would have to ensure the passage of a law to establish a body to work on reform plans. When ready, the plans would be put up for a referendum. Under the proposal, the new government would be in office for no more than 12 months after the July election.

The statement said the party was full of hope when Mr Abhisit first floated his plan embracing political reform as part of elections.

However, when the Democrat leader went into detail, Pheu Thai found his proposal “confusing, insincere, undemocratic and not compliant with the charter”.

Mr Abhisit’s plan calls for a delay in issuing a royal decree to set the date for the election, and the resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to pave the way for an interim neutral government chosen by the Senate speaker.

Mr Bhokin insisted the resignation of Ms Yingluck is out of question because she left office after the Housedissolution in December last year.

She remains in a caretaker role as required by the charter, until a new cabinet is in place.

Mr Bhokin said the appointment of an interim neutral government is not within the constitution, pointing out the charter makes it clear that only the House of Representatives is authorised to nominate and elect a prime minister.

Mr Abhisit’s plan for the Senate speaker to intervene in the House’s affairs constitutes an attempt to unconstitutionally seize power, he said.

The Pheu Thai strategist said the proposal was inappropriate and is similar to anti-government protesters’ call for an interim prime minister during the political crisis prior to the Sept 19, 2006 coup.

He also said Mr Abhisit’s remark that the future of the country lies in the hands of Ms Yingluck shows he favours the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which has been calling for her to step aside for months.

He said the prime minister does not have exclusive power to issue a royal decree on the election. She needs to work with the cabinet ministers and the Election Commission.

Mr Bhokin said political developments over the past months suggest a conspiracy by the PDRC and some public independent organisations to undermine the democratic system.

A ruling by the Constitution Court in the Thawil Pliensri case, the reaction of the Election Commission towards Mr Abhisit’s proposed poll delay, and the military’s role should all be monitored, he said.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday expressed regret over Pheu Thai’s rejection of Mr Abhisit’s proposal.

He said the party was attempting to mislead the public about the political situation and that the claim Mr Abhisit’s plan is not in line with the charter is untrue.

“That the cabinet can’t resign [because it is already out of office] isn’t true. The cabinet ministers have the right to do so. What if the whole cabinet died in a plane crash?”

“The claim that the House Speaker must be consulted on a referendum is also untrue. Section 165 uses ‘may’, not ‘must’,” he said, referring to Pheu Thai’s argument that Mr Abhisit’s referendum can not be carried out since there is no House Speaker.

Democrats threaten to boycott poll

Posted by pakin On May - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Party will again stay out of election if Abhisit’s reconciliation proposal rejected

The Democrat Party will not contest the next election if a reconciliation proposal to be unveiled by its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva today is rejected by the parties involved in the ongoing political conflict, according to the party’s spokesman.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday that with the political conflict remaining unsolved and the country still in a state of deadlock, there was no point in the Democrats taking part in the election. “We will still be in the same spot, and we can’t move forward because the conflict still exists. There will be disorder. The Pheu Thai Party will bring about a bloody election. For what will the Democrat Party have taken part?” he said.

The Democrat spokesman asked the ruling Pheu Thai Party and caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to make it clear how they would make sacrifices for the country’s benefit. He criticised the premier for suggesting that Abhisit should not have set any conditions in regard to his reconciliation proposal.

The Democrat leader on Thursday had said that he would take a political break if his proposal aimed at finding a political solution were accepted by all the parties involved. Abhisit said this was to prove that he would not benefit from his own proposal.

Chavanond yesterday expressed suspicion that Yingluck might be attempting to protect the interests of herself, her family and her party.

He said turning down Abhisit’s proposal would mean the politicians involved were failing to sacrifice their own benefit for the country’s interest. “We will see who are politicians, and who are the election experts,” he added.

The next election has been tentatively scheduled for July 20. The previous voting on February 2 was declared void by the Constitutional Court, as it was not held on the same day in the entire country, which was against the Constitution.

The Democrats had boycotted the February poll on the grounds that it was being held at a time when conflict still existed.

Meanwhile, Abhisit has met a number of top politicians and senior bureaucrats to gather their ideas as to how the Kingdom could be brought out of its destructive political crisis.

He has called a press conference at the Sukosol Hotel this morning to unveil details of his proposal.

The Democrat leader yesterday said the government was ignoring a way out of the crisis by insisting on going ahead with the July 20 poll.

Pheu Thai has belittled Abhisit’s offer to take a political break if his proposal is accepted.

Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that Abhisit had attached a condition to his pledge to take a political break simply to boost his image, although the former PM was aware he would have a qualification problem that would prevent him from becoming an election candidate.

He said Abhisit’s retroactive dismissal as an Army personnel member would disqualify him from contesting an election.

Pheu Thai’s former defence minister Sukampol Suwannathat approved the retroactive dismissal of Abhisit for allegedly using a falsified military draft document to apply for the post of lecturer at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, an allegation rejected by the Democrat leader.

Prompong also urged the Election Commission to issue no later than May 6 a Royal Decree calling the next election, and not by May 8 as has been planned by the agency.

Meanwhile, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan yesterday cancelled a gathering of government supporters in Nakhon Pathom, which had been scheduled to take place on Monday. He has called a mass rally of the red shirts on May 14, the same day that the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee plans to hold its own mass gathering.

Bid to meet Suthep to find way out

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 26 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Coalition to invite Democrats, other parties to talks; warn of Asean suspension

Political parties plan to hold talks and send representatives to People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban for discussions to resolve the political deadlock, as they fear internal conflict could even lead to the country’s suspension from Asean.

The coalition parties will call a meeting of 53 political parties to find out what each party thinks about the Constitutional Court ruling that nullified the February 2 election.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that the meeting would be held at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom’s Sam Pran district on Friday.

Prompong said the Democrat Party would be invited to join the meeting. If the party rejects the invitation, the Democrats would be criticised as not being sincere with the public on the issue of democracy, the spokesman said.

Chart Thai Pattana Party’s key member Somsak Prissanananthakul said politicians known to be close to Suthep would try and convince him to enter into negotiations.

“In this political crisis, no one wins 100 per cent or loses 100 per cent. The Asean integration will begin in about 100 days. If we are still struggling with internal conflicts, we may lose the chance to become an Asean economic hub as we have aspired. In a worst-case scenario, we may be suspended from Asean,” he said.

Suthep said yesterday that he has at no time approached anyone for the position of interim premiership, saying the time is not ripe for such a move.

He added that the PDRC would not join talks with the Election Commission in order to find a political solution to the ongoing problems.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Nuttawut Saikuar recently disclosed a list of people who he claimed were candidates for interim premier to replace Yingluck Shinawatra in case she were to be indicted by the national anti-graft agency over the rice-pledging scheme.

Suthep said the PDRC has never approached anyone to become an interim prime minister and the red shirts’ list of names comes from their own imagination.

“We haven’t moved to that process, as we have yet to remove the Thaksin regime. The prime minister must resign first and only after that will the search for a neutral premier start,” he said.

The former deputy prime minister said the PDRC will definitely not attend any negotiations except face-to-face talks with the prime minister broadcast live on television.

The PDRC has stressed its stand on national reforms before an election, he said, adding that a new general election will be useless given voters’ poor response to the Senate’s advance election on Sunday.

The Constitutional Court annulled the February 2 election, compelling the EC to organise a new round of balloting nationwide.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on Yingluck and Suthep to hold talks on national reform live on TV.

The live broadcast would create confidence among the people and prevent the spread of rumours that cause both sides to attack each other.

Abhisit was speaking to the Senate committee on political development and public participation in politics. The committee had invited Abhisit to express his opinion on political reform.

Abhisit admitted that certain reforms could not be completed before an election because they would require charter amendments to implement them.

As a result, he said a public referendum should be held on whether the people wanted reforms so that politicians would have to commit themselves to carrying out reforms after the election.

“The most difficult thing about reforms is to find the starting point, as both sides are squabbling over whether the reforms should be introduced before or after the next election,” Abhisit said.

“Each side refuses to accept the other’s reasons. So, I think we must follow a middle path. We must carry out urgent things first because it is impossible to complete all reform issues fast. For example, decentralisation cannot be done in one or two years. And if an election is held now, no one will believe that it will lead to reform.”

Nuttawut said he would reveal a list of PDRC supporters today to prove that they would benefit if the current government was removed. The list would include names of potential ministers or members of the PDRC who would form the appointed government as suggested by Suthep.

“Our standpoint is clear. We will not accept coups of any form and an unlawful PM. If the situation reaches that point, we will come out to fight but in a democratic way,” Nuttawut said.