Thai protest group issues warning on new premier
By GRANT PECK,Associated Press Writer AP - Saturday, December 13
BANGKOK, Thailand - The protest group that shut down airports in Thailand's capital for a week earlier this month has threatened new actions if Parliament next week elects a new prime minister it finds unacceptable.
The statement issued Friday by the People's Alliance for Democracy comes during a period of intense politicking ahead of Monday's special session of Parliament, with contending political parties each claiming they have enough support to select the country's new leader.
Even disgraced former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is in exile, will be entering the fray, with a scheduled speech by phone to followers who will gather Saturday at a Bangkok stadium.
Thaksin is expected to rally support for the Phuea Thai party, comprising most politicians from his former Thai Rak Thai party, which was his ruling party from 2001 until he was ousted by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power.
Phuea Thai backers claimed Friday they have enough backing in Parliament to elect former national police chief Pracha Promnok, leader of the allied Puea Pandin party, the new prime minister.
The People's Alliance for Democracy last week abandoned its occupation of the airports _ which stranded upward of 300,000 travelers _ after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat was forced to step down when a court ruled that his People's Power Party had committed fraud during the December 2007 general election that brought it to power.
The party was the original successor to Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai. The protest alliance _ known by its initials, PAD _ accused Somchai of being the puppet of billionaire Thaksin, his brother-in-law.
"The PAD opposes any proxy prime minister from the Phuea Thai Party and any prime minister from a political party that is part of a coalition involving the Phuea Thai Party, which is a newly established proxy political party of the Thaksin regime," said the protest group's statement, which included 13 nationalist and royalist "conditions" for any new government to follow.
"If the conditions and ideologies of the PAD are denied or ignored, it is ready to stage activities according to the situation," said the statement.
Thailand's Democrat Party, which has been in opposition to the Thaksin camp since 2001, warned Friday that Thaksin's planned speech could re-ignite political turmoil, while expressing confidence that it can form a new government next week.
It had earlier expressed concern that Thaksin might pressure politicians backing them to drop their support.
The Democrats say they have enlisted enough lawmakers from other parties to form a parliamentary majority and name their leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister of a new government.
"Mr. Thaksin is a very powerful man. His speech might create deeper divisions among Thais and stir up more turmoil in the country. It depends on his conscience," Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks told The Associated Press.
But he said the party was still confident that Abhisit, an Oxford-educated politician from an upper class background, would emerge as the country's leader. He said Thaksin made daily calls over the last week to woo former supporters who had defected to the Democrats but was unsuccessful.
Nattawut Sai-kua, a government spokesman and an organizer of Saturday's stadium event, said Thaksin in his speech would accuse the powerful military and other forces of intervening in politics and destroying the democratic process.
"They are trying to fix who should be the next prime minister," he said.
The new leader will be Thailand's fifth prime minister in a little more than two years. The country has been deadlocked politically by months of protests by the People's Alliance from Democracy, which had occupied the prime minister's office from late August until last week.
Thaksin, a former telecommunications magnate who recently was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for violating a conflict of interest law, is still supported by many in the impoverished countryside because of his populist policies while in power.
Recommend this article
Average (1 vote)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: Asia Pacific
Thailand tense on eve of crucial PM voteAFP - 20 minutes ago
World’s fastest off—track car, Ariel Atom, to be sold in SingaporeChannel NewsAsia - 2 hours 12 minutes ago
Mumbai gunman's confession sheds light on massacreAP - 2 hours 26 minutes ago
British PM arrives in India ahead of talks with SinghAFP - Sunday, December 14
548 officers from Army, Navy and Air Force commissioned on SaturdayChannel NewsAsia - Sunday, December 14
Most Popular – Asia Pacific
US carmakers mull options as White House vows aid
US Treasury ready to stave off auto sector collapse
Nobel laureates crown U2's Bono 'man of peace'
Italian investor group formally takes over Alitalia
Greek youth protest switches to scene of teen killing
View Complete List »