Members of Thailand’s senate trying to devise a “road map” out of a long political crisis were yesterday expected to propose the appointment of an interim prime minister, a move that would infuriate supporters of a beleaguered caretaker government.
The caretaker administration loyal to Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister by a court last week, wants to organize a fresh election it would likely win. However, anti-government demonstrators backed by the royalist establishment want a “neutral” interim prime minister to replace the government and implement electoral changes end the influence of Yingluck’s brother, ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The senate is the only legislative assembly still functioning after six months of anti-government protests and a disrupted February election that was later declared void.
A senate working group has been consulting public and private sector representatives on a way out of the deadlock and it is likely to recommend an interim prime minister with “full powers” to replace the caretaker government with limited ones.
“Most groups we talked to agree that an interim prime minister to temporarily solve the country’s problems is a solution,” working group member Jate Siratharanont said.
The working group was expected to make its recommendation to an informal gathering of the senate later yesterday, he said.
Just how a formal decision to appoint an interim prime minister would be made and implemented is not clear. Critics say it would be unconstitutional.
The caretaker government says it still has a mandate to organize a new election. It had tentatively set a July 20 date, but the Thai Election Commission says it needs more time.
The government’s “red shirt” supporters, thousands of whom are rallying on the outskirts of Bangkok while they cling to hopes for an election that would return Thaksin’s loyalists to power, have warned of violence if the government is ousted.
More than half the members of the 150-seat senate are elected, with the rest appointed. Most elected members side with the government and have said they do not agree with an interim prime minister, raising doubts over whether the senate can even reach a conclusive decision.
Fueling uncertainty, acting Thai Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan is out of Bangkok, inspecting damage in the northern city of Chiang Rai after an earthquake last week.
Niwatthamrong, appointed after Yingluck’s ouster, was on Thursday forced to flee from a meeting with election officials when anti-government protesters broke into the air force compound where the talks were being held.
That came hours after a gun and grenade attack on anti-government protests in Bangkok’s historic area in which three people were killed, the deadliest outbreak of violence since February.
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