09/08/2008, 00.00
THAILAND
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Student movement joins PAD against Sundaravej

by Weena Kowitwanij
Prime minister is under more pressures to resign or dissolve parliament in favour of fresh elections. Senate speaker rejects referendum option.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Popular Alliance for Democracy (PAD) got an unexpected boost today when Vasan Vanich, coordinator of the Federation of Students, announced that “4,000 university students from 40 national institutions will cancel their classes from 9 to 11 September” in order to join it “in a silent protest in favour of the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej or the dissolution of parliament.”

“Why should be attend class when our country has so many problems?” Vasan Vanich said. “University students have traditionally been seen uninterested in politics. This time we want to participate and have our say.”

Sumate Yamnum, secretary general of the University Students Association, noted that “it is fundamental in a democracy to express one’s opinion.” Never the less, to his fellow students he also said: “Make sure you have attended enough classes to have the right to take your exams.”

Prangsurang Chotichatchawalkul, a member of the Youth Alliance Network, said that he “closely followed the political situation before he decided to join other young people to liberate the nation.”

In the meantime in the corridors of power things are moving. Banharn Silpa-archa, leader of the Thai Nation (Chart Thai) Party, which is part of the ruling coalition government, publicly said that “based on my past experience dissolving parliament could be the best way to deal with the situation. When the two sides cannot talk to each other, there is no other way out of the conflict.”

Opposition leader Abisit Vejjachewa suggested that “all veteran politicians should help solve the country’s problems at a time when the Thai people is so troubled.”

Senate Speaker Prasobsuk Boondej announced that Surapong Suebwonglee, secretary-general of the People Power Party, was charged with carrying a message to his party leader, Prime Minister Sundaravej, laying out two options: resign or dissolve parliament. Once one of the two choices is made, the PAD will end its protest and abide by the law. Calling a referendum is instead unacceptable.”

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