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Pheu Thai in desperate bid for power

Pheu Thai in desperate bid for power

The Thaksin Shinawatra camp is not giving up in its race with the Democrat Party to form a new government even as the former PM's ex-wife Pojaman Damapong pours her resources into winning over supporters.

Discussions were conducted in the war room in the Shinawatra Thai Silk building of the Pheu Thai Party yesterday. The party's strategies, the political situation and making contacts for MPs to join the party were all discussed.

Pojaman quietly returned from Hong Kong on Friday in a bid to mobilise supporters for the new government after the dissolution of the Somchai Wongsawat's cabinet following a court ruling.

"Those who have any close associates, please bring them back to the Pheu Thai Party," a source quoted Pojaman as saying.

However, another source said the MPs in the camp agreed that the chance for them to form a government had become slim. But they have not given up entirely. They tried hard with the help of veteran politicians like Prawat Uttamote of the Group of 16 to use personal relationships to urge former coalition MPs to return to the fold. However, the former coalition MPs said they wanted to protect the country and the monarchy so Pheu Thai needed to improve its strategy.

Former Pheu Thai spokesman Sakda Noppasit said the party had only a slim chance as the military had lobbied the others to join the Democrat Party. Pheu Thai has vowed revenge and said it would challenge the Democrat-led government's legitimacy in every way.

"It would be tit-for-tat and could be more severe," he said.

A party source said plans to destroy the credibility of many institutions such as the justice system had been laid out. Protests like those staged by the People's Alliance for Democracy would be planned. Demonstrators would work closely with the red-shirted pro-PPP government group.

Pheu Thai's key member Yongyuth Tiyapairat, a former PPP deputy leader, would be in charge. However, Newin Chidchob's red-shirted supporters would not join, the source said.

On the other hand, Pheu Thai MP Somchai Petprasert from Nakhon Ratchasima said the Democrat boast about having the numbers to stitch together a government was just the first step. The former coalition party had just said they would consider the Democrat bid.

"Pheu Thai is full of unity. If you cut the heart of the former People Power MPs you will see 10-20 more MPs wanting to join the Pheu Thai. I believe Pheu Thai can form a government and the people have shown which party they want to form the government," Somchai said.

Caretaker prime minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul rejected the idea of dissolving the House to prevent the Democrats from forming a government.

Chaovarat said there was no necessity for House dissolution at the moment. He said the former ruling party and the opposition were trying to gather support for a coalition. It would be unreasonable to dissolve the House.

He denied that his decision not to dissolve the House was a result of his son Anutin being a close associate of former Thai Rak Thai executive Newin Chidchob.

Pheu Thai MP Surapong Towijakchaikul from Chiang Mai said it was impossible for the Democrats to gather 260 MPs on their side. Out of the total of 438 MPs at the moment, Pheu Thai could count on 220.

"I believe we won't lose any support. Many northeastern MPs in the Friends of Newin group have joined us. We have to make this clear to the people," he said.

"Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai has always said his party will let the party with the most seats in the House to be the first to form a government. If it fails, the second one then will form the government. The Democrats are going back on their word," he said.

However, Deputy House Speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai, a Pheu Thai MP from Nonthaburi, said his party had fallen behind the Democrats after Chart Thai Pattana refused to back it. But Pheu Thai was ready to form a government if the Democrats could not.


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