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Samak mulls ending ineffective state of emergency

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Thailand political stalemate:
Samak mulls ending ineffective state of emergency
Govt referendum seen as a non-starter

Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said he was considering revoking the state of emnergency because it had not been effective while the referendum bill he and his ruling party has fast-tracked in the parliament has found little support, reported AFP.

"There is no need for the state of emergency because no one has complied with it. Since they are defying, the decree has not been effective. Therefore I will consult with the concerned officials in a day or two" about ending emergency rule, Samak said.

The embattled premier declared the emergency in Bangkok last Tuesday (September 2) after protesters besieging his offices clashed with his supporters, leaving one person dead and 43 injured.

The emergency put Bangkok under the control of the powerful army chief, General Anupong Paojinda, but he has refused use the special powers to evict the protesters who have occupied the lawn outside Samak's offices since August 26.

Samak appeared to be running out of options for breaking through the stalemate. He has refused to step down or call snap elections, insisting that he would stay in office to defend democracy.

As a compromise, he has proposed holding a referendum asking the public to decide whether he should stay or go.

But critics - including the head of the Senate and the opposition leader - slammed that idea, arguing that the balloting would only drag out the turmoil and risked sparking new violence.

"The referendum is going to be a non-starter," said political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak, of Chulalongkorn University. "We're back to the same confrontation."

In a related report, state news agency TNA said senate speaker Prasopsuk Boondej on Friday began talks with army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda and core leaders of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to explore ways to end the current political turmoil which has impacted Thailand for months.

Prasopsuk's was appointed a mediator the same day during his meeting with the house speaker and opposition Democrat Party leader to help end the political turmoil.

Meanwhile, more than 30 senators on Friday told a joint press conference that the only way out to end the crisis is for Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to dissolve the House and return power to the people.

The senators suggested that the PAD and pro-government protesters must also end their demonstrations and monitor the election to ensure that it is conducted in a fair manner.

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