Thai PM tells Senate he will not resign

Thai PM tells Senate he will not resign
Thai acting caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.

The Senate and the government failed to break the political deadlock at a meeting yesterday as acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan refused to step down to pave the way for an interim government as demanded by them and anti-government protesters.

With the government declining to cooperate, the option of pursuing the plan to install a neutral prime minister has been snuffed out, Senator Dej-Udom Krairit, one of the senators who spoke with Niwatthumrong, said.

The meeting between senators and Niwattumrong was held in the morning at an undisclosed location to discuss options for ending the political impasse.

After Niwattumrong refused to resign, senators held a three-hour-long closed-door meeting with a working group that was chaired by acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai.

Though the Upper House was unable to arrive at a conclusion, Dej-Udom said Surachai will still go ahead with a press conference on the matter tomorrow.

Despite the acting premier's refusal, Senator Somchai Sawaengkan said the senators would not give up and will continue trying to achieve the goal of installing an unelected prime minister and an interim cabinet. However, he did not elaborate on the plans and timeframe.

Second Deputy Senate Speaker Peerasak Porchit, who had spoken to Niwattumrong earlier yesterday, said the acting PM insisted that his caretaker government would continue working until a new government was put in place.

"He just listened but offered no response when I told him that his government did not have a full mandate and could not fully function," Peerasak said.

Peerasak represented Surachai in yesterday morning's meeting with Niwattumrong and caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri. Surachai missed the meeting, saying he was sick.

Niwattumrong later issued a statement, insisting that he and his Cabinet have full authority to function in a caretaker capacity, as they are required to stay on under Article 181 and the May 7 Constitutional Court ruling until the next Cabinet takes office.

"So now the country has a Cabinet and an acting PM who has full authority to administrate the country in line with the Constitution," the acting PM said.

Demands from other groups for a neutral PM are unlawful as the country already has a serving Cabinet and an acting PM, Niwattumrong said in the statement.

Appointing an overlapping prime minister while you already have one is unlawful, he added.

Also, appointing a new prime minister who has full authority is impossible because Article 181 still limits his or her authority to administrate the country, the statement said.

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