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Planned mobile cabinet raises concerns

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Thailand Political Stalemate:
Samak plans UN trip, shrugs off coup risk
Planned mobile cabinet raises concerns

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej in his weekly televised address on Sunday said he would attend the United Nations General Assembly session in New York later this month,
dismissing the possibility of being ousted by a military coup while he is abroad.

Reiterating his vow to stay on, Samak said would keep on working to defend democracy and the monarchy.

His announcement came as Senate speaker Prasopsuk Boondej, assigned by parliament to mediate the conflict between the government and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)
which calls for Samak’s resignation, plans to start discussions with the two sides Monday.

PAD core member Chamlong Srimuang reportedly said his group would not negotiate as long as Samak stayed in power.

The mediation attempt, political observers said, may find it difficult to push the conflicting parties to come half way.

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) has rejected the PAD’s call, saying that there would be no negotiation on the unlawful ‘demand’.


There are fears that the planned mobile cabinet meeting on Tuesday in Udon Thani, the ruling People’s Power Party’s stronghold in the northeast, might trigger violent
confrontation between the pro- and anti- government supporters.

As political parties representing both the government and the opposition are meeting Monday to ease the tension, concerns rise over growing rifts between the two opponents while there
are speculations that Samak might dissolve the House eventually.

Local dailies reported Monday of pro-government rallies provinces to demand an end to the PAD’s occupation of the Government House as Samak is scheduled to hold his cabinet meeting
in Udon Thani Tuesday, which is reminiscent of a similar gathering of ministers in 2006 when then premier Thaksin Shinawatra faced PAD protesters who sealed the Government House.

Samak invoked a state of emergency in Bangkok after violent street clashes last Tuesday and handed control of the protests to the military, which refused to disperse them.

While senior commanders had ruled out staging a coup, they might have to resort to one if the government finds itself unable to steer the country out of the turmoil and the country
is caught in a deadlock, local media reported, quoting a military source.

Thailand has been through 18 coups in its history, the most recent one in 2006.

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