Govt raises legal questions over election of new speaker

national May 11, 2014 00:00

By Khanittha Thepphajorn,

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Acting PM wants check, amid fears that Surachai may move to impeach Yingluck

The election on Friday night of Surachai Liengboonlertchai as the new Senate Speaker is still in question despite the majority of senators voting for him.
Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan said the government would have the Council of State study the law to see whether Surachai could take the post after the government did not put the selection of a new Senate Speaker on the agenda when submitting a Royal Decree to have the special Senate session for royal endorsement.
On Friday night, Surachai beat Jongrak Jutanont, who is supported by the pro-Pheu Thai camp, 96 to 51.
Pheu Thai deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said the party’s legal team would investigate to see if anyone involved in the selection of the Senate Speaker had violated the law. 
Pheu Thai legal expert Kanin Boonsuwan said Surachai had violated the law as he did not resign from the Deputy Senate Speaker post before running as a candidate for the Senate’s top job. 
Kanin also said it was unlawful for the Senate to have a meeting on the agenda out of a House session.
Appointed Senator Paiboon Nititawan, who is on the side of the anti-government protesters, said despite the new speaker being voted in, the government would try to stop the Senate from proceeding with the impeachment process against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Yingluck was indicted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission in the rice-pledging scheme case on Thursday.
Paiboon referred to a Council of State comment that an impeachment process can occur outside a House session only after the Parliament president submits a royal decree. 
After the House dissolution on December 9, the government has not has the numbers to form a quorum in the Lower House so the Senate is the only legislative institution at the moment. 
The Parliament president, who is also House Speaker, and the Parliament vice president, who is also  Senate Speaker, are positions that have been vacant. There has been speculation that Surachai now has the capacity to nominate an interim PM because of the political crisis.
Former Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij’s term ended in March. His role as caretaker Senate Speaker ended later that month after he was indicted by the NACC for allegedly amending the constitution illegally.
Surachai has scheduled a special Senate meeting for tomorrow to discuss finding a solution to the political impasse.

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