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Democrats: CLip proves Thaksin influences Somsak

The opposition Democrat Party yesterday called on House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond to explain an allegation that he was influenced by fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in performing his duties.

Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalsut played a five-minute audio recording during his press conference yesterday. The man in the clip, whose voice sounded like Somsak's, said that he had discussed with "the man afar" about mounting opposition to the reconciliation bills and he suggested that the ruling Pheu Thai Party withdraw the bills to ease the political pressure.

In the audio clip, Thaksin was not mentioned by name; he was referred to as "the man afar".

Chavanont told the media that the clip was recorded during Somsak's birthday party on June 27 in the northeastern province of Phetchabun while Somsak was talking to a group of party-goers.

The Democrat spokesman said the clip was proof that the House speaker, who is also the Parliament president ex-officio, lacked neutrality and should no longer remain in the office.

Opposition and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on Somsak to explain this matter. He said if Somsak was the man in the clip, it was clear that Thaksin maintained his influence over the government and the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Pheu Thai MPs.

Somsak, who is an MP from the ruling Pheu Thai Party, could not be reached by phone yesterday. According to his schedules, he has a trip in South Korea between July 1 and 5.

The House speaker's spokesman, Wattana Sengpairoh, said yesterday that he did not think Somsak was the man in the clip. He said it was uncharacteristic of Somsak to be so aggressive. He accused the Democrats of trying to pit Somsak against Pheu Thai's key figures in a bid to cause rift within the ruling party.

However, Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said Somsak had informed party seniors about what he said on June 23 during his early birthday party in Phetchabun. "The party seniors have no concern about this. It is normal for the House speaker, who is a politician, to make political views," the spokesman said.

He said the opposition was trying to play up the matter in a bid to damage Somsak's reputation and to bring down the government.


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