Acting speaker warns of conflict worsening as Senate discusses solutions
Efforts to find a way out of the political stalemate were under way yesterday, with senators convening an informal meeting to discuss possible solutions to the crisis.
The caretaker government is still insisting on its legal mandate and the ruling Pheu Thai Party hit back at their political rivals, and judges who recently issued a ruling against them.
Acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai, who chaired an informal meeting of senators aimed at finding a solution to the crisis, said yesterday the ongoing political conflict was worsening and threatening to become violent and spin out of control. He noted that the Senate was the only legislative body operating, after the House of Representatives’ dissolution last December.
Surachai said he did not think the Senate discussion would reach a conclusion on a possible way out by yesterday, a deadline set by anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who threatened to take the matter into his own hands unless a new prime minister was appointed by then.
“The problem has accumulated for more than 10 years. We won’t be able to solve the problem within a day. We’ll try to do it as quickly as possible in a way that is fairest for the country and for the people,” said Surachai, who was elected on Friday by fellow senators to become the new Senate speaker.
He declined to answer when asked if he had the power to appoint a new prime minister, as had been suggested by Suthep, who heads the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
“I have no road map for the country’s exit,” Surachai said, adding that he would also discuss the matter with other institutions.
National Anti-Corruption Commission president Panthep Klanarongran said yesterday he was pleased to join such an effort to find a solution for the nation.
However, the Election Commission would not take part in any move to appoint an unelected neutral prime minister, according to EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong.
Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan said he did not expect the presidents of the Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court and Constitutional Court to join a discussion about appointing a new prime minister, as had been urged by Suthep.
Jatuporn, who is holding a red-shirt mass rally on Aksa Road, warned that if Surachai dared appoint a new prime minister, “he will know how it feels to be in hell”.
Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpisan insisted yesterday that the caretaker government had a legal mandate to remain in power. He said the government was willing to work with all sides to end the impasse, but stressed that it must be done “within the framework of the Constitution.”
He also warned against any attempt to replace the government with an appointed interim administration to institute reforms before a new election. “They may do so at their own risk” of breaking the law and exacerbating the conflict, he said.
Pheu Thai yesterday filed a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation against Suthep, who it claims has violated Royal prerogative and committed treason.
DSI chief Tarit Pengdith, in his capacity as secretary of the Centre of Administration for Peace and Order (CAPO) received the complaint from party spokesman Prompong Nopparit, who asked Tarit to consider it as a special case. Tarit told reporters he had accepted the case for consideration.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai’s Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday he would file a complaint with the Criminal Court today against the nine Constitutional Court judges who found him guilty of malfeasance in connection with the 2011 removal of National Security Council secretary general Thawil Pliensri.
Surapong said his rights were infringed after the judges’ verdict resulted in him losing his posts as deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister.
The court ruled last week that then-premier Yingluck Shinawatra and nine other Cabinet members, including Surapong, had abused their power by transferring Thawil to benefit a relative of Yingluck.
Pheu Thai yesterday called on the Election Commission to speed up preparations for holding a new election soon. It said an election would be a peaceful solution for the country and it would respond to the people’s wishes.
In a related development, the Army has prepared a plan to prevent a clash between the pro- and anti-government demonstrators, according to Deputy Army Spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari. He said so far there has been no sign of threatened violence between the red shirts and PDRC protesters.
Winthai also dismissed rumours of a coup that had been spread on social networks.