Calls to end crisis

national May 14, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Lawyers Council backs the idea of appointed premier

Calls grew yesterday for a peaceful solution to the ongoing political stalemate, as the Senate continued its discussion aimed at finding a way out of the crisis.

The moves came as anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking inside Government House, called on the public to mount pressure on the Upper House to appoint an unelected prime minister as soon as possible. 
Meanwhile, the pro-government red shirts now gathering in an area adjacent to Bangkok yesterday voiced strong opposition to any attempt to bring in an “unlawful” prime minister. 
A group of prominent scholars and peace advocates yesterday urged the rival political camps to jointly select an interim, non-partisan deputy prime minister to replace the current acting PM, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, so that the country could move forward with reforms and successfully hold a general election.
The group called on both sides to establish common grounds and step aside from a conflict that could plunge the country into civil strife.
They proposed that both sides agree on three grounds – find a way out within the Constitution’s scope; have a non-partisan person run the government at this critical juncture; and have an agreement to ensure that all sides will join forces for national reforms.
Acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai yesterday urged all social elements to help find a solution for the country if they did not want Article 7 of the Constitution to be invoked as a last resort.
Anti-government protesters have called on the Senate Speaker to nominate a new prime minister for royal endorsement under the constitutional provision.
Senators yesterday continued their discussion for the second day to find a way out for the country, and appointing an unelected PM was an option. 
Surachai today is scheduled to meet with representatives from independent agencies and the private sector to discuss solutions to the political crisis. 
Niwattamrong, the acting PM, has declined to attend the meeting with the senators due to his busy schedules, and the government will not send any representative, according to a source close to him. However, Niwattamrong would be happy to meet with Surachai on this matter “when the time is right”, the source said.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday called on Niwattamrong to step down in order to make way for solving the political crisis. “He should allow the country to move forward. A government with a neutral prime minister will be set up to run the country for a period of time and allow reforms to be carried out before the next election,” he said.
Suthep, in his second statement, yesterday asked all social elements and groups to call on the Senate Speaker to find a suitable new PM as soon as possible.
The Lawyers Council of Thailand yesterday also supported the idea of appointing a new prime minister. It said in a statement that the Constitution’s Article 132 empowers the Senate to make such an appointment.
Meanwhile, the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) yesterday accused Suthep and Surachai of violating the law by floating the idea of appointing an unelected prime minister.
UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan said the Senate has no power to appoint a PM. He also warned that the red shirts would “come out in full force” if such a PM is appointed.

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