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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2585

Embattled leaders of People Power Party vow to form another government reuniting under the Puea Thai

Bangkok, 03 December, ( Thailand’s Constitution Court has moved with unusual speed on Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and outlaw the ruling People Power party. Anti-government protesters lifted their Suvarnabhumi siege, but full international service could take two weeks to resume at the Bangkok airport.

Under the 2007 constitution, written by appointees of the September 2006 coup- makers, senior executives of the PPP and two other parties -- Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya -- would be banned from politics for five years. MPs of the three parties must move to new parties within 60 days in order to retain their parliamentary seats.

Thailand’s Constitution Court was set up by the coup leaders who was responsible for grabbing power from former Prime Minister Thakshin Shinawatara on September 19, 2006 when he was out of the country to participate in the UN General Assembly meeting in New York

PPP leaders vowed to form another government under the Puea Thai party label. But it will be without Mr Somchai, who was banned from politics for five years.

It is expected that the three banned parties will reunite under the Puea Thai (For Thais) party, and form a government from surviving members of parliament.

Chaovarat Charnveerakul, the first deputy prime minister, will be caretaker prime minister.

Government chief whip Withaya Buranasiri said a proposal may be made for the House of Representatives to convene a session on Dec 8 to elect a new prime minister.

The court decision banned the parties and all their executives because of cheating in the Dec 23, 2007, election. But the decision has no immediate effect on other MPs or their ability to form a government.

The verdict came amid a confrontation between Somchai, the brother-in-law of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and anti-government protesters occupying Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

Somchai was elected by parliament on September 17 after his predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, was forced from office last month for appearing in television cooking shows.

The judge, wearing a black robe with a scarlet collar, read the order live on national television.

"No matter whether you are satisfied or not with the verdict, we ask you to accept it," he said.

The verdict said the party must be disbanded because PPP executives had been convicted of vote fraud after elections in December 2007.

"Although some party executives had no knowledge of the election fraud, the law stipulates clearly... the party must scrutinise its executives thus the party cannot deny responsibility," Chat said.

The court banned 109 PPP, Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya executives from politics for five years.

In the meantime, the deposed Prime minister Somchai Wongsawat yesterday said the dissolution of his party had freed him from duty, paving the way for other responsible people to take over the country's reins.

Somchai told reporters after his last Cabinet meeting, held in Chiang Mai, that he had worked to the best of his ability right up to his last day in office.

"I'm going for lunch; let the responsible people take over. I'm off-duty and am an ordinary citizen now," he said.

When asked if the political conflict would continue, Somchai said he could not make any predictions. "I don't know, it is not my responsibility," he said.

After taking a rest at his Chiang Mai residence, Somchai met reporters and said he would now do charity work.

"With powerful people telling you to stop, you have to stop. I have no regrets. I can do other things for the country. I can do charity work, and don't need any authority to do the job," Somchai said.

When asked if he had his wife Yaowapa's backing, the former PM said: "She has supported me since we married. She would never leave me. I know she supports and encourages me all the time. I also support and encourage her all the time. We don't need to say this to each other.

"I thank all media representatives. I will remain the same. Don't forget me," he said, while heading off for a game of golf with other executives of the now-defunct People's Power Party.

- Asian Tribune -

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