Former Thai PM Abhisit asks Yingluck to step down

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, unveiling his plan to bring the country out of the political impasse, yesterday asked Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet to resign before a Constitutional Court ruling.

The first of the 10 steps proposed in his plan is that the election tentatively set for July 20 must be delayed.

"All Yingluck has to answer is whether she can step back from power for five to six months," Abhisit said, referring to the time before the next election would take place.

The Cabinet's resignation would pave the way for an unelected interim government to be in charge while civil society, including the Reform Now Network and the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), jointly work on guidelines and the plan for national reforms.

The interim government would run the country and solve immediate problems but would not have a mandate to pass laws because there would be no elected House of Representa-tives. During this period, no politicians would be involved in either the reform council or the country's administration, Abhisit said.

In the meantime, the Election Commission (EC) would work on amending related laws and regulations to make the election free and fair, he said. It might include regulations on election campaigns, dealing with electoral fraud and breaking election campaign promises.

In doing this, political parties that run in the next poll must agree to push for upcoming national reforms.

Only after a referendum on the reforms would an election to select another interim government be held, according to his plan. With a House of Representatives elected, laws could be amended to implement the reforms, as approved by the referendum. However, the interim government's term would last only for a year.

Abhisit said he would submit his details of his proposal to Yingluck and PDRC leader Suthep Thaug-suban on Tuesday.

He wanted an answer from Yingluck before the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling on her status in relation to the transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri.

"If the government announces an election [by issuing the Royal Decree for the election on July 20], I will take that as the answer [for no].

"But if the government sees this plan as interesting - not necessarily accepting it - it must come and make it happen," he said.

"The main principle to get the new government to replace the current one is that it must be a government that comes from the consent [of the people involved], not being forced by the situation or anything."

Earlier, Abhisit announced that he would not take part in the next election if his plan was accepted, but his party would cooperate by running in the poll.

"If the government doesn't accept, the same thing will continue. No one can answer what will happen next," he said.

A Democrat spokesman said previously that the party may boycott the election if Abhisit's proposal was not accepted.

Abhisit insisted that his plan was completely legal. It upheld the Constitution and democratic principles.

He said his plan was different from the PDRC's reform proposal in that the unelected interim government would have no authority to amend laws as that mandate belonged only to the elected House of Representatives, while the PDRC's People's Council would be a legislative organisation.

He did not elaborate on how the unelected interim government would be set up, only saying that it would be under the mandate of the Senate Speaker, the head of the remaining legislative institution at the moment.

He said the red shirts would not lose anything except the Yingluck government having to take a break before the next election.

As Thai citizens, they could also take part in filing opinions for national reform.

"I'm aware that not everyone will be happy with this proposal, but I think it will satisfy all sides to a degree," Abhisit said.

He believes that the government will be satisfied with the eventual election and the PDRC will be happy with the opportunity to reform.