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Domestic concerns keep PM Somchai at home

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October 11, 2008

Thailand Political Stalemate:
Domestic concerns keep PM Somchai at home

Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has cancelled all of his maiden visits to neighbouring Asean countries next week apparently due worries that  political crisis might worsen, reported local media and wire news.

Somchai, who was to visit Laos on Sunday, cancelled the trip as he and the ruling People Power Party came under pressure from many sides after the fatal crackdown Tuesday on anti-government protesters.

Former deputy prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, suggested Friday that a military coup might be the only way out of the ongoing political turmoil. Chavalit resigned from his post Tuesday after the deadly clash between the anti-government protesters and police which left 2 dead and hundreds injured.

On Friday, Thai Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda called on the Somchai government to take responsibility for Tuesday's police crackdown.

"The government must investigate who issued the order and if police officers operated in accordance with the law. This was because the order could easily lead to injuries and loss of life," the Bangkok Post quoted the army chief as saying.

The paper reported that the government's effort to appoint independent panels to investigate the crackdown on demonstrators stumbled Friday, with Prime Minister Somchai admitting the nominations were still unclear. On Thursday, Somchai said he expected the selection of panel members would be completed in two days.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Friday received a petition filed by public prosecutors to disband the ruling People Power Party on grounds that one of its executive members was convicted of vote-buying ahead of last December's election that brought the party to power, reported Kyodo news agency.

Yongyut Tiyapairat, the PPP executive, was convicted July 8 and banned from politics for five years. Yongyut was deputy head of the PPP at the time of the election. He left the position when he became lower house speaker after the election. He stepped down as speaker earlier this year.

The Constitutional Court is empowered to disband any political parties whose leaders or executive members were aware of a member's involvement in dishonest or unfair elections.

If any parties are disbanded on election fraud charges, all the executive members of the parties will be banned from politics for five years.

The Office of the Attorney General has already filed similar disbandment cases against another two coalition parties -- the Chart Thai Party and the Matchima Thipataya Party, according to officials of the Constitutional Court. So far, no trials have been scheduled.

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