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Govt smearing Abhisit ahead of censure, Democrats claim

The Democrat Party yesterday accused the ruling Pheu Thai Party of attempting to discredit Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva ahead of the upcoming censure debate.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told a news conference at party headquarters that instead of addressing the country's problems and preparing for the censure debate, Pheu Thai politicians were focusing on Abhisit in a bid to damage his reputation.

"People in the government are struggling hard for their survival. They devote much of their time scrutinising Abhisit. It sounds as if the government is afraid of him and they have their men trying to discredit Abhisit," the spokesman said.

He added that the "smear campaign" came after Pheu Thai's patriarch Thaksin Shinawatra failed to persuade Abhisit, who is also the Democrat leader, to support laws that would give amnesty to the fugitive ex-prime minister.

"The reason could be that the Thaksin regime can't buy Abhisit to be on its side," he said.

Chavanond also said that after this government came to power late last year, the number of unemployed people increased by 260,000, more than 60,000 people had been laid off, and more than 5,000 businesses closed down.

"What is worrying is that the country has a trade deficit of Bt360 billion," he said.

The Democrat spokesman also accused the government of maintaining high petrol prices for the benefit of PTT, which has many shareholders close to politicians in power, and at the cost of consumers.

Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua, who is also a red-shirt leader and a Pheu Thai MP, said yesterday that he was ready for the upcoming censure debate.

He expressed confidence that none of the government's projects was marred by irregularities and there was, thus, no cause for concern over Cabinet members being targeted.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, in an email sent to the media yesterday, said the ruling party was not affected by the Democrats' "untrue allegations". He said he did not think the opposition MPs would have any damaging information for the censure debate that would threaten the government's survival.

He also rejected a Democrat allegation that Thaksin was trying to influence the next Cabinet reshuffle.

"Thaksin is a senior figure respected by many party politicians, but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has the final say about changes in the Cabinet line-up," the spokesman said.


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