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Article 7 'can work'

Unelected PM could be legitimate: dean

The Dean of the National Institute Development Administration's faculty of law, Banjerd Singkaneti, who is also a member of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said he believed an unelected prime minister, as stipulated in Article 7 of the Constitution, would follow the due process of the law, making the appointment legitimate.

The "People's Council", as described by PDRC secretary-general and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, has been widely criticised as an outdated solution, because it is designed to pave the way for a royally sponsored prime minister.

The option, which was last proposed and rejected before the government of Thaksin Shinawatra was brought down by a military coup in September 2006, was abandoned as it was considered undemocratic and would involve His Majesty the King in political decision-marking.

"Criticising us for resorting to Article 3 and 7 of the Constitution is like missing the point. We have to look at the root cause - that the government has lost legitimacy to run the country after attempting to pass a law pardoning those accused of corruption," Banjerd said. "The ruling Pheu Thai Party then rejected the Constitutional Court's ruling that the move to change the formation of the Senate is unconstitutional."

Banjerd said the government had also refused to withdraw the charter-amendment draft, which had already been forwarded for royal endorsement. If the King did not endorse the law within 90 days, Parliament could still pass the law with a majority vote.

"We have reached the point where we are able to exercise a constitutional right - according to Articles 69 and 70 - to depose a government that has lost legitimacy, both politically and legally. MPs and senators are our representatives and when they have lost legitimacy, we have to 'tear up' the power-of-attorney that handed them power and turn to Article 3, which stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the people.

"If the government quits and does not carry out its role as 'caretaker', we will be left with a political vacuum. We are therefore pushing political sentiment in this direction so that sovereignty is returned to the people.

"When a solution cannot be found in the Constitution, we have to resort to the 'democratic norm' [Article 7] and not involve the King by seeking a royally sponsored PM. We can manage by ourselves, as sovereignty belongs to us,'' Banjerd said.

He added that it was not an unprecedented event as many mature democratic countries including the United Kingdom, France and Germany had also adopted this type of transition in the past. Thailand has also resorted to a royally sponsored prime minister in October 14, 1973.

Commenting on the PDRC's proposal, Panas Tassaneeyanont, former senator and former dean of Thammasat University's faculty of law, said anything could happen while the PDRC and protesters did not seem to care about any legal principles.


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