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(Reuters) – A Thai court accepted a new case on Wednesday against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, compounding her many legal problems as she resists pressure to step down over five months of sometimes violent street protest.

Twenty-four people have already died in the crisis, including an anti-government protester on Tuesday after weeks of calm in Bangkok.

Yingluck’s supporters plan mass rallies of their own this week to counter attempts to remove her from office by activists also determined to stamp out the influence of her brother, ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Constitutional Court accepted a case brought by a group of 27 senators who petitioned it to rule that her removal of National Security Chief Thawil Pliensree in 2011 violated the constitution. The case said the prime minister abused her position by moving the security chief to an inactive post.

“The court accepts the case regarding Yingluck’s transfer of Thawil and has the right to consider the case,” court spokesman Somrit Chaiyawong told Reuters. He said he could not yet say how long it would take to conclude.

Yingluck’s supporters have accused the Constitutional Court of bias in frequently ruling against the government.

The court struck down a bill last year that would have made the Senate upper house a fully elected body and quashed a costly infrastructure plan intended to buttress the economy.

In another victory for the opposition, the court on Wednesday threw out a petition by Labour minister Chalerm Yoombamrung asking it to rule that the anti-government protests aimed at forcing the government out violated the constitution.

Yingluck faces separate charges of negligence brought by the National Anti-Corruption Commission over a rice subsidy scheme that has run up huge losses. Should it forward the case to the Senate for possible impeachment, she could be removed.

That would require the votes of three-fifths of the senators. Thailand’s 150-seat Senate is made up of 77 elected senators. The other 73 are appointed and are largely seen as opponents of the government.

Weekend Senate elections suggest it will have a pro-government majority.

Anti-government protesters are now banking on military or judicial intervention from courts seen as hostile to Yingluck.

ARMY CHIEF WARY

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is months away from retirement, appears wary of the international and domestic backlash to a coup. Prayuth has for months skillfully parried questions over possible military intervention.

“If you were working in a company and didn’t see eye to eye with the company’s owner, would you chase your boss out?” Prayuth asked reporters on Wednesday in a typically cryptic answer. “I will do as I am told and I will not comment.”

The military, which has staged numerous coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, overthrew Thaksin in 2006. It has stayed out of the fray this time.

“He hasn’t buckled under pressure so far because he knows that the army has made the mistake of getting involved in the past, leading us to the mess we are in today,” analyst Kan Yuenyong of the Siam Intelligence Unit said of Prayuth.

Yingluck’s “red shirt” supporters have called for a mass rally in Bangkok on Saturday.

More militant factions within her camp say they are gearing up for a fight if she is removed from office.

Anti-government protesters first took to the streets to oppose an amnesty bill that critics said would have permitted Yingluck’s brother to return from self-exile. The bill was eventually rejected by the Senate, but protests continued and new demands emerged.

Thailand has really been in crisis since Thaksin was ousted in 2006. The conflict broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and conservative establishment against Yingluck and Thaksin’s supporters in the north and northeast.

(Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Editing by Ronald Popeski)

BANGKOK, March 28 – Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra admitted today she was deeply concerned with her required clarifications to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on alleged irregularities in the rice pledging scheme on Monday.

She questioned whether the NACC has treated her fairly and in a manner and degree similar to other holders of political positions in the past, referring to the NACC’s refusal to extend the deadline for another 45 days as she requested.

The NACC, in turning down Ms Yingluck’s request, said it has already extended the deadline by 15 days and that the caretaker prime minister would be allowed to provide more evidence or documents in the questioning process.

Ms Yingluck said the NACC normally set up a sub-committee to investigate an allegation after which the conclusion is submitted to the full committee.

“In this case, the sub-committee investigation process was skipped and the NACC spent only 21 days to wrap up its investigation,” she said.

Ms Yingluck said she has received only 49 pages of documents concerning the rice pledging scheme and another 280 pages of documents were just sent to her while she has only three days to prepare for her explanations to the NACC.

“My question is whether the NACC has treated me fairly. I do hope I’ll be granted justice in the process like other holders of political positions,” she said.

She added that she would consult her legal advisers before deciding if she will personally give her clarifications to the NACC on Monday.

She would not comment on a speculation that she would be indicted in the case but said everyone should be treated fairly under the justice system.

Asked if she contemplated taking a break from politics, Ms Yingluck said she hasn’t thought about it yet since various processes are much far ahead but “I’m willing to act in accord with the people’s demand.”

“What we have to think now is what to do next after the Constitution Court nullified the Feb 2 general election. What can we do to let all factions accept the election process and let a general election take place?” she said.

She expressed hope that the Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest political party, will cooperate with the Election Commission.

Asked whether ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has discouraged the Pheu Thai Party from contesting in the poll if the Democrat Party does not participate, she said decisions belong to Pheu Thai Party executives.

Asked if she would agree if the Shinawatra family refrain from political activity as a resolution to the country’s political impasse, Ms Yingluck said, “You’ve already heard the reply from Mr Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.”

She said, “I’m performing my duty today to preserve democracy. I don’t hold on (to power). However, I’m willing to cooperate with whatever the people want that will bring peace to the country.

“You have to ask those who have disrupted many of the processes on whether they agree with it. I’m just part of the mechanism. I believe that various factions want resolutions. We have to discuss and move our country forward under the democratic framework.” (MCOT online news)

Suthep: too early to lobby for a neutral premier

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 25 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
BANGKOK, March 25 – Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said today that he had never approached anyone to assume the interim premiership as the time is not ripe for the move.
The secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) said the PDRC will not join talks with the Election Commission (EC) on the resolution of Thailand’s political conflicts.
Pro-government group of United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or Red Shirts  leader Nattawut Saikua has disclosed a list of people whom he claimed were candidates for an interim prime minister to replace Ms Yingluck Shinawatra in case she is indicted in connection with the rice pledging scheme.
Mr Suthep said the PDRC has never approached anyone to become an interim prime minister and the Red Shirt’s list of names derived from its own imagination.
“We haven’t moved to that process as we have yet to remove the Thaksin regime. The prime minister must resign after which a search for a neutral premier will start,” he said.
The former deputy prime minister said the PDRC will definitely not attend any negotiation except for a face-to-face talk with the prime minister broadcast live on television.
The PDRC has stressed its stand for national reform 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 Constitution Court has annulled the Feb 2 general election, compelling the EC to organise new balloting nationwide. (MCOT online news)

State of emergency revoked, security act imposed

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 18 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
BANGKOK, March 18 – The caretaker Cabinet today revoked the emergency decree and replaced it with the more lenient Internal Security Act, to be invoked in Bangkok and a few neighnouring provinces.
A government spokesperson said the Internal Security Act will be enforced in Bangkok and Nonthaburi provinces, Lat Lum Kaeo district of Pathum Thani and Bang Phli district of Samut Prakarn from tomorrow, March 19, through April 30.
The state of emergency was revoked following complaints from the private sector due to its negative impact on Thailand’s investment climate and tourism.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reportedly expressed concern on violence and attacks on the homes of high-level officials and personnel in the government, independent agencies and the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee.
She instructed caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to coordinate with the National Police Bureau and director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order Chalerm Yubamrung to urgently hunt for the culprits involved in the violent incidents. (MCOT online news)

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