Former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's hope for a political comeback suffered a severe blow this morning when his allies both outside and within the ruling party boycotted a special House session to select a new chief executive.
The allies disapproval of Samak's re-instatement forced the boycott. The House is scheduled to convene again next Wednesday to elect a new prime minister, but Samak's chances now appear doomed.
All eyes are on the coaltion partners now, as none of them sent MPs to join the urgent House session. Even senior PPP leaders are acknowledging that the possibility of Samak's return has caused widespread conflicts.
Speculation about the allies 'shifting their loyalty' and the possibilities of a 'national government' have resurfaced. However, it is believed that if the PPP nominates another person, the coalition partners will continue their backing for the ruling camp.
A quorum check showed 161 MPs were inside the assembly hall this morning. Earlier, more than 240 MPs had signed their names for the meeting, which would make the quorum. It was obvious that many of those who signed their names decided or were told not to join the urgent session, which required attendance of at least 235 MPs to proceed.
On Thursday, the coalition partners resolved to continue backing the PPP in forming a new government after Samak was disqualified by the Constitution Court on Tuesday. That pledge of loyalty, however, did not include backing Samak's return to power.
The Democrats, who unsuAccessfully nominated their leader Abhisit Vejjajiva during the quorum check, described the postponement as a time-buying tactic to settle differences among PPP MPs and coalition allies.
Many PPP MPs were also absent from the Assembly Hall today, underlining reports that Samak was causing a divide even in his own party.
Earlier in the morning, PPP MP Areepen Uttarasingh called for postponement of the House session to some time after September 25, when the Appeal Court will consider the lower court's libel conviction against Samak.
Former prime minister Samak arrived early at the Parliament in the morning but he refused to talk to reporters.
On Thursday, Samak said he didn't fear jail and was ready to risk his personal well-being to fight what he described as a threat to democracy. It was a borderline statement that could be perceived as harsh criticism against the Constitution Court which disqualified him on Tuesday for having conflicts of interests due to his "employment" as TV cooking show host.
Hundreds of pro-government crowds gathered in front of Parliament this morning. However the anti-government People's Alliance for Demcoracy cancelled its plan to rally there.
The pro-government crowds identified themselves as residents from every province in the Northeast. Every district reportedly organised about 10 to 20 villagers to join the rally.
But Samak's trouble began early inside the parliamentary compound, with news about the allies' boycott starting to pour in.
Chart Thai party's deputy leader Somsak Prissananantakul said after an urgent party meeting this morning that his party MPs would not attend the parliament session to choose Samak as premier.
MP Preecha Rengsomboon of Isaan Pattana faction in the PPP also indicated that his faction would not toe the party line. He did not explain whether the faction would reject Samak outright, or abstain or vote for an alternate candidate. He said his faction was made of some 70 MPs.
This was despite claims by PPP spokesman Kudep Saikrajang that his party would strongly back the reinstatement of its leader Samak.
According to Preecha, many PPP MPs viewed Samak as being "arrogant" and failing to listen to criticism.
Pracharat Party leader Snoh Thienthong had also already indicated that he might abstain from House vote to re-elect Samak.