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Ex-TRT MPs join little-known party

All 300 former members of Parliament and MP candidates of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai yesterday agreed to join the little-known People Power Party to ensure they would be eligible to stand for the next polls if the 1997 charter is restored.

Published on July 29, 2007

Under the previous charter, all MP candidates need to be members of political parties for at least 90 days, counting from the registration date for MP candidacy.

All candidates would need to be members of existing parties by August if the Council for National Security reverts to the 1997 constitution, and the next general election is held in December this year.

Former Thai Rak Thai MPs and candidates unanimously made the decision yesterday at a general meeting.

Suraphong Suebwonglee, a Thai Rak Thai Group executive member, said if the junta-sponsored draft 2007 constitution is rejected in the August 19 referendum, these former TRT members could end up unable to run in the next polls if they did not join a new party in time.

He said the People Power Party had a similar ideology, adding that the little-known party supported policies such as a welfare state, poverty eradication and environmental protection, and it was transparent like the now banned Thai Rak Thai Party.

Suraphong discounted criticism that his group was losing precious time as other parties had already started campaigning and the new party was relatively unknown.

He said the name of the party was not the most important issue, adding the most important thing was its policies. He added that caretaker Thai Rak Thai party leader Chaturon Chaisang had already prepared many policy platforms for the promised general election and the new party is ready to launch an election campaign right after the scheduled August 19 referendum.

Talks about the structure of the new party executives, as well as who will lead the party, have however yet to be held. Sura-phong said the matter would be resolved by early August.

Suraphong insisted the move is legal but expressed fear that the move may be obstructed by those in power. He added the group would continue to campaign against the junta-sponsored draft constitution and said the public deserves to know both sides of the debate. They will take the opportunity to also inform the constituencies about the decision to join the People Power Party.

He also said the CNS should reveal to the public which old charter would be revived if the draft charter is rejected during the referendum.

He urged the authorities to hold a free and fair referendum and to also withdraw martial law in many remaining parts of the country so politicians would not be subject to arbitrary searches due to their involvement in opposing the junta-sponsored draft charter.

Asked whether the group would set up its own party if the draft charter is endorsed by the referendum, thus reducing legal hurdles it could face, Suraphong said he had yet to discuss the matter.

Police Lt-Colonel Karn Tiankaew, chairman of the advisory board of the People Power Party, said he was glad and honoured to welcome new members. He hoped it would lead to a return to political normalcy and unity, especially considering that this year marks His Majesty the King's 80th birthday.

Suraphong admitted that he is in talks with political veteran Samak Sundaravej to become the party's new leader. The group, he insisted, would not join the Prachakorn Thai Party, which was founded by Samak.



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