09/11/2008, 00.00
THAILAND
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Samak accepts to succeed himself

by Weena Kowitwanij
PM’s party reiterates its support for ruling government coalition. But there is uncertainty. Ongoing crisis could last longer and weaken democracy. Experts and Buddhist leaders express speak out.
 Bangkok (AsiaNews) – A political storm is brewing in Thailand after the Constitutional Court unanimously decided to remove from office Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej (see photo) after he received money for televised cooking demonstrations. His party immediately announced it would nominate him to succeed himself in office when Parliament votes for a new prime minister on Friday. But the base for his support has weakened; other contenders have appeared and his re-appointment might see anti-government protests continue. In the end Thailand’s fragile democracy might be further weakened after being re-established following the bloodless military coup of September 2006.

Many believe that the government, which is under attack from many segments of Thai society, should instead seek a broader deal with the opposition.

“The verdict of the Constitutional Court is a favourable circumstance to end the political tension,” said Prajak Kongkiat, political scientist at Thammasat University.  If the parliament re-selects him as Prime Minister, the crisis will occur again. Since the foundation of democracy is negotiating with the winner and the loser, no one gets all or loses all.”

For Professor Kongkiat “we need a political reform to strengthen the politic system in order to make it more efficient.  The core leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) set too many unacceptable conditions like excluding all current coalition leaders from becoming prime minister. The PAD is wrong to reject dialogue. As much as people may be dissatisfied with Samak, many are also far from sharing the PAD’s positions.

In his opinion “the best solution at the moment is that the core leaders of the PAD should surrender to police and let the law determine their guilt. The rest should be allowed to continue their protests but outside Government House.”

“Ninety-five per cent of the Thai people are Buddhists,” said Pra Maha Maetee, a Buddhist monk. “How can Buddhists create such violence? Let Thailand be the example of a country that ends the violence for the sake of Buddhism.”

A poll by Assumption University (aka ABAC) shows that 59 per cent of the population is neutral on the issue, neither for nor against the PAD or the People Power Party-led government.

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