09/12/2008, 00.00
THAILAND
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No quorum in parliament, PM’s election postponed

by Weena Kowitwanij
Without a legal number of MPs in the house, the election of the new prime minister has to wait. Outgoing PM Samak, who still enjoys his party’s support, is the leading candidate to succeed himself. The military calls for an end to the “state of emergency.”
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The parliamentary session to elect the new Thai prime minister lasted only half an hour. It was postponed until next Wednesday because of its failure to secure the legal number of members to vote.  Thailand’s constitution in fact requires the presence of at least 236 members (out of 470). Although 236 were present based on the number who signed in, only 161 were in the chamber for the vote. The names of candidates must be proposed by at least a fifth of all members or 94 votes with at least half of all the members present.

The situation is such that there are no immediate solutions to the ongoing political crisis which has lasted for many weeks so far and has pitted activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who have taken government buildings in the capital against supporters of outgoing Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

The former premier was removed from office by the Constitutional Court because he received money for taking part in TV cooking shows.

A spokesman for Samak’s party announced yesterday that the old leader accepted his party’s decision to present him again for the post, a choice that his coalition partners are scheduled to vote on.

The Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Anupong Paojinda, said that the army is at the service of people and that when “the people is divided, the armed forces must remain neutral.”

For Thai Chamber of Commerce Chairman Pramon Sutiwong, the new premier must have fundamental qualities like ‘honesty, transparency and morality,” but above all he must be able to “bring back unity and solidarity to the population.”

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