Push for political vacuum

national May 19, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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PDRC campaign 'will force ministers to resign' to pave the way for an unelected interim govt

The Senate and anti-government protesters will push separately to create a “political vacuum” from today – with the latter attempting to hunt down the remaining ministers to force them to resign and pave the way for an unelected prime minister to run the country. 
Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai has an appointment with acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan today to discuss solutions to bring the country out of the ongoing political crisis.
Surachai said yesterday that he had spoken on the phone with Niwattumrong but did not disclose the place and time of the meeting in order to avoid disruption by anti-government protesters. The result of the meeting will be revealed to the media, he said.
Surachai did not disclose his stance but caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri expects the senator to ask the caretaker Cabinet to resign to pave the way for him to bring in a so-called neutral person to be prime minister and form an interim government.
“May I ask a question to the senators as to whether it is possible to have such neutral prime minister?” Chaikasem said.
“The Senate wants to have a full-mandate government. How can that happen as long as we don’t have the full parliament since the lower House has already been dissolved? 
“I don’t know why they want to have the neutral prime minister. It does not make any difference … since the new government would not have full mandate, either. Should anybody name a person to be the neutral prime minister?”
There is no legal possibility for the Senate to select a neutral PM for royal endorsement as the session for the Senate meeting has already closed, he said, adding that technically the Senate is not functioning.
“If the Senate can do anything it wishes, perhaps we don’t need to have the Cabinet at all,” the legal expert said.
Meanwhile, People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters reached an understanding with representatives of state enterprise labour unions that they would begin an operation to hunt down the remaining members of Cabinet from today until Wednesday in a bid to force them to resign. 
If the members of Cabinet remained past that date, state workers would call a general strike to stop working on Thursday, said Komsan Thongsiri, secretary of the State Enterprise Worker’s Federation of Thailand.
“We demand the remaining ministers hand their power to the people otherwise we will lift our struggle to the highest stage under the Constitution,” he said without elaborating further.
The state enterprises mostly operate public facilities such as energy and water supply.
Komsan said workers would cut electricity and water supply if necessary to put pressure on the government. 
Protester PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban said that from today his followers would try their best to locate members of the Cabinet. Suthep said he was disappointed with the Senate’s failure to install a new government although many senators shared the same goal with the protesters, which was to have an unelected full-mandate government.
Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan said the anti-government protesters and state workers were conspiring to create chaos in the country to force the military to intervene. 
He urged the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order to maintain law and order, as the protesters might clash with ministers’ guards.
Another red-shirt leader Nuttawut Saikuar, who is also a minister, said he was threatened by Suthep’s group.
“If any ministers get hurt from Suthep’s men, people who have sympathy for the ministers might be angry,” he said. 

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