A group of academics and peace advocates yesterday urged rival political camps to forget about appointing a "neutral" prime minister through Article 7 of the Constitution and jointly select an interim non-partisan deputy PM to act as head of government temporarily so that the country can move forward with reform and a general election.
The group includes Surichai Wungaeo and Chantana Banpasirichote, Chulalongkorn University political scientists; Chaiwat Satha-Anand, founder and director of the Peace Information Centre at Thammasat University; and General Ekkachai Srivilas, director of the Office of Peace and Governance at King Prajadhipok's Institute.
For sustainable democracy and a victory for all Thais, both sides should establish a common ground and step over conflicts that could plunge the country into civil strife, the group said.
Both movements should agree upon three objectives - seek a way out of the stalemate that stays within the scope of the charter, find a "non-partisan" person who can manage the country at this critical juncture, and draft a pact to ensure that all sides will join forces to "reform" the country.
Then both camps should agree not to take recourse to Article 7 to get a non-partisan prime minister, because critics harbour doubts that this would be legitimate.
Under the group's proposal, both the pro- and anti-government camps would agree on putting in place a "non-partisan" PM who does not have the full authority normally held by a sitting prime minister.
Both then should agree on coming up with clear reform proposals that will be legally binding on the next government. The reform proposals must be drafted before the general election is held.
Both political camps must decide how they would select such a non-partisan leader. Once they come up with a candidate, the present acting prime minister would nominate him as a deputy PM for royal endorsement.
The caretaker Cabinet then must resolve to have that deputy PM serve as acting PM, replacing the current one.
The Pheu Thai Party, Democrat Party, United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and People's Democratic Reform Committee would nominate three candidates each, who have demonstrated that they are "neutral" in behaviour and actions, possess a clean track record and are widely accepted as having the ability to manage a crisis.
The non-partisan acting PM would then appoint a non-partisan minister to coordinate reform efforts. Not more than 35 ministers would be appointed by the opposition or neutral bodies to resolve the political crisis.
Reform proposals would be submitted to the Election Commission, which would hold an election and a referendum on the same day to save costs and time. The referendum results would be legally binding on the next government.
Both camps should sign an agreement that whoever wins the next election will be in power for one year and the House of Representatives will be dissolved and a snap election called again.