Dec 15, 2008

World - Thailand to pick new Premier

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: As Thailand starts the countdown for a contentious vote in Parliament for the choice of a new Prime Minister, the military-deposed leader in self-exile, Thaksin Shinawatra, has called for a fair process. Democrat Abhisit Vejjejiva, believed to enjoy the Army’s support, is the frontrunner for the post, following moves by some allies of Puea Thai Party (PTP), Mr. Thaksin’s latest “proxy,” to desert him.

The prospective voting is caused by the recent judicial unseating of Somchai Wongsawat, the deposed leader’s political associate. He was the second successive Thaksin-loyalist to have been dismissed by the courts since the military-organised election for “restoration of democracy” nearly a year ago. In a pre-recorded video-address on Saturday, Mr. Thaksin told supporters at a stadium in Bangkok that it was time Thailand was allowed to move on without extraneous interventions.

On the military’s role, he asked non-political forces to “step back and let the mechanism [of democracy] work.” This set the stage for a possible realignment of political forces under the prevailing Constitution that was endorsed in a referendum during the junta’s rule.

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