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Mixed views on unelected PM, interim govt

Suggestions put forward by anti-government protesters to bring in an unelected prime minister and an interim government to replace Yingluck Shinawatra's administration are being widely analysed and criticised in terms of their feasibility and constitutionality.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban suggested earlier that the enforcement of Articles 3, 7 and 64 of the Constitution could bring about an unelected prime minister and a "people's assembly" to reform the country. The three articles do not say anything about the means of achieving a new government. They only state that sovereignty belongs to Thai nationals and people have the right to assemble and associate.

Many legal experts, notably those who support the anti-government protests, have suggested that His Majesty the King could pick anybody he deemed suitable to sit in the position as unelected prime minister under Article 7 of the Constitution.

However, the article does not specify this. It merely states: "Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State."

His Majesty himself decided in April 2006 that it was undemocratic for the monarch to pick an unelected person to be prime minister.

Former PM Banharn Silapa-archa, now chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, said it would disturb the King if he were to be asked to appoint an unelected PM.

Trakool Meechai, associate professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University, said there were no clear details yet as to what exactly constituted a people's assembly of a royally appointed PM under Article 7. "If it leads to reform, then I agree with it, because Parliament as it is cannot bring about the kind of democracy demanded by the protesters," he said.

"Back in 1973, a People's Assembly was royally appointed. Another way is to abolish the current power system and create from scratch a new political system to embark on reform. So we must look at the final goal and see whether it will lead to reform. The current 'Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime' is not what we want," he added.

Komsan Poakong, an independent legal scholar, said: "The application of Article 7 is possible, but only if all institutions and organisations together ask His Majesty the King. Then he can exercise the power."

If the current prime minister resigned and there were no replacement, and the House were to be dissolved, then there would be a power vacuum, he said.

Somchai Silpapreechakul, a law lecturer at Chiang Mai University and a former dean of the faculty, disagreed with the idea of an unelected prime minister and an interim government, because of legal constraints.

A power vacuum occurred in Thailand in 1973 when then-PM Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn fled the country. On that occasion, Sanya Dhrmasakti was appointed prime minister in a caretaker government, he said.


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