'Mediator' plan falters

national April 16, 2014 00:00

By Chanikarn Phumhiran,
Panya Th

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Prem lauds Rattha Bukkon group's intentions but offers no comment; Pheu Thai says plan seeks govt's overthrow

A proposal to have Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda take on a mediator’s role in order to resolve the political impasse may not get off the ground due to lukewarm support.
A close aide yesterday quoted General Prem as saying that the proposal to have him act as a mediator to resolve the political crisis was born of good intentions.
Lt Gen Pitsanu Phuttha-wong, chief of the Office of the General Prem Tinsulanonda Statesman Foundation, said Prem had learned about the proposal from the media, but did not make any specific comments on the issue. However, the aide said, the statesman believes that the group proposing the idea – like other groups – has good intentions and hopes to bring peace to the country. 
A group of former senior bureaucrats called Rattha Bukkon or Man of the State, led by former supreme commander Saiyud Kerdphol, proposed that talks be brokered between leaders in all sectors to draft a covenant under Royal command on how the country should be ruled at times of crisis. 
Saiyud stressed that the person playing the mediator’s role could not exercise the King’s power under the Constitution’s Article 7.
Article 7 states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of the government with the King as Head of State.”
The real intention of Saiyud’s proposal is under doubt as it could be considered unconstitutional. 
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday rejected the proposal, saying it appeared to offer a shortcut for certain political groups that had joined hands with old “elitists” with the intention of toppling this government and setting up a new one without listening to the public majority. 
“Their real intention is crystal clear. They are no different from the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee of Suthep Thaugsuban,” Prompong said at a press conference.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, meanwhile, declined to comment on the proposal, saying he did not believe Article 7 could be applied until the country enters a political vacuum – in other words, it is not applicable for as long as a caretaker PM is in power. 
Election talks
Abhisit said his party would definitely dispatch high-level representatives to discuss holding a new election with the Election Commission next Tuesday. The Democrats had earlier set conditions, saying they would only participate if the discussions were broadcast live and if Pheu Thai sent party leaders to attend. 
Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said the Pheu Thai Party would have authorised officials attend the discussion and would set no conditions because it believes holding an election is the best solution for the country. 
Meanwhile, Chanyuth Heng-trakul, leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in the East, said his group was ready to offer caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra support by converging on the Constitutional Court the day it issues a verdict on the Thawil Pliensri case. In this case, Yingluck is accused of violating the Constitution in relation to the transfer of Thawil from his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council. 
Yingluck has until Friday to submit her defence statement, but it is not certain if she will seek to extend the deadline. 
Meanwhile, Chanyuth said his group would hold a peaceful and unarmed demonstration to protect democracy. “UDD members will pour in from across the country. Bangkok will come under siege because only 2 million protesters are needed to paralyse the capital,” he said.
Pheu Thai legal specialist Ruangkrai Leekijwattana said the Constitutional Court could be accused of trying to establish itself as a “sovereign” court if it oversteps its authority by ruling that the caretaker Cabinet must be dismissed and Yingluck must step down if she is found guilty of acting unconstitutionally over Thawil’s transfer.
“If the court rules [against Yingluck], how will the verdict be written? It is not easy. If the caretaker Cabinet is dismissed, what will come next? Will there be a political vacuum?” he said.

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