Acting Thai PM to meet Senate tomorrow

Acting Thai PM to meet Senate tomorrow
Provincial leaders and allies of the anti-government People Democratic Reform Committee.

Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan will meet with the Senate tomorrow to discuss ways to break the political impasse but has insisted that any solution must be constitutional and any move to appoint a new prime minister cannot be done unless it is legal.

"I have already been contacted by the Senate and there'll be a meeting with representatives [of the Senate]. It will take place at a secured location in order to prevent obstruction by the [anti-government] People's Demo-cratic Reform Committee [PDRC]," Niwattumrong said.

"As for the election, there will be another consultation with the Election Commission (EC). Whether it will be a [face-to-face] meeting or a teleconference we will soon decide."

He said he was aware that the EC wanted to add to the Royal Act that an election could be postponed, even after announcing the date, if the situation made it necessary.

The acting premier also tried to alleviate concerns that the army would intervene by staging a coup or declaring martial law, saying army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha's seven-point declaration - which included the threat of the use of full force if necessary - merely stemmed from Prayuth's desire to see peace and order.

Niwattumrong also reiterated that the remaining caretaker Cabinet would continue to carry out its duty under Article 181 of the charter until a new government was installed.

Opposition Democrat Party spokesperson Chavanond Intara-komalyasut, meanwhile, called on the government to quickly consult with the Senate and pave the way for a new government in order to solve the economic malaise.

Issues affecting the economy include the falling price of agricultural produce, the high cost of living, and the money owed to rice farmers under the rice-pledging scheme.

Ongart Klampaiboon, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, accused the caretaker government of dragging its feet in an attempt to hang on to power.

Ongart listed five measures allegedly adopted by the Pheu Thai administration: pushing for an election first in order to remain in power; using red shirts to coerce others through all means; using radical red shirts as a threat of force; using state mechanism to deal with opposing mid-ranking officials; and using high-ranking officials who benefit from Thaksin Shinawatra's regime to pressure business people who support the PDRC.

Ongart predicted, however, that all these measures would fail.

Pheu Thai Party legal adviser Pichit Chuenban warned on his Facebook page yesterday that any attempt by the Senate to install an appointed prime minister via Article 7 of the constitution would be tantamount to a violation of royal prerogative.

He said the constitution didn't authorise the Senate speaker or the Senate to carry out such a move, while a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court made it clear that the caretaker Cabinet could continue to carry out its duty.

In another related development, Pheu Thai Party deputy spokesperson Ansuron Iamsa-ard warned the Election Commission that its commissioners could end up in prison if they failed to earnestly hold an election.

Anusorn said the EC should play the role of referee and not be a party to the political conflict.

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