The Nation

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BURNNING ISSUE

Lose the branches of power, lose the nation

THE COUNTRY is spiralling towards a vacuum of the three branches - legislative, executive and judiciary - as it struggles under a prolonged political conflict with no end in sight.

The two rival political camps have exhausted all tactics in claiming victory over each other - from fighting fierce legal battles to lobbying for world community support, to mobilising mega-rallies in a show of force, as the political struggle intensifies.

The government camp has protested against the court's nullification of the February 2 election. The anti-government group has been trying to drag the country into a political vacuum in order to appoint a PM under Articles 3 and 7 of the Constitution. Legal experts from both rival camps are interpreting laws to benefit their side.

At issue in these interpretations is whether former Senate speaker Nikom Wairatpanij or his deputy Surachai Liengboonlertchai would get to nominate the new PM for royal endorsement if caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra is suspended or removed from duty.

Nikom, who is also acting Parliament President, was suspended from duty after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) voted last month to indict him over alleged violation of the Constitution while chairing parliamentary meetings to deliberate a charter-amendment bill on the Senate's composition.

Without the House of Representatives, some legal experts believe Surachai, who has close ties with the anti-government Group of 40 Senators, should nominate the PM. But the government camp has argued that Surachai, by position, is not legally qualified to carry out this job.

While the anti-government's mission of dragging the country into a political vacuum has almost become a reality, the government has made a last-ditch attempt to stop the move by blocking the Senate from carrying out its duty - in other words putting Parliament in a vacuum.

The Senate had earlier called for a special parliamentary session to carry out three tasks - consider impeaching Nikom, appoint Supreme Administrative Court specialists and replace NACC member Jaided Pornchaiya, who has retired. If the country had not been deeply divided, the Senate should have been allowed to do these tasks. But the government chose to ask the Council of State to rule whether Parliament should be reconvened and it got the answer it wanted - no.

The council cited that calling a special parliamentary session is the duty of the Parliament President and that the deputy Senate Speaker is not authorised to do this job. So the caretaker PM is unlikely to issue a Royal Decree calling for a special session.

This means Parliament appears to be in a vacuum because the country |will not have a new Senate Speaker |as long as a House session is not convened. It therefore seems the government has been able to block the anti-government group from appointing a "neutral" PM through the Senate.

The country, however, will likely suffer the consequences of not having Parliament to appoint or impeach independent agencies, judges and political office holders or even declaring war. It looks like the country has lost the both houses of Parliament and the government is also heading towards a vacuum pending the Constitutional Court's ruling.

The judiciary's power will also enter a vacuum if a major political camp dismisses its power citing discrimination and biased rulings.

The day the country completely loses its three branches of power to a vacuum, will definitely mark our demise.


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