Thailand: Faction Of Ruling Party Rejects Somchai As Next PM

BANGKOK, THAILAND: A group of 73 government MPs allied with the People Power Party's Newin Chidchob faction is strongly opposed to the party's choice as Thailand's next prime minister.

The MPs walked out of the party's general meeting on Monday (15 Sept) after PPP deputy leader Somchai Wongsawat, the brother-in-law of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was nominated for prime minister.

The MPs wanted to open a debate on the party's three PM choices, including Sompong Amornwiwat and Surapong Suebwonglee, but the meeting's chairman refused to do so, sparking the walkout.

A source from the Newin faction, which supports Surapong as premier, hinted at a military coup if Somchai became prime minister due to his relationship with Thaksin.

However, the PPP leadership successfully convinced each of the 73 MPs in the Newin faction to change their minds and back Somchai later in the day.

Yaowapha Wongsawat, Thaksin's sister, told the 73 dissident MPs on Monday night to support her husband, Somchai, or Parliament would be dissolved.

Yaowapha met the MPs at the IFCT Building to tell them comply with the party's stand by Tuesday (16 Sept) or Somchai, acting prime minister, would dissolve Parliament, according to party's sources.

Some of the 73 MPs signed a written statement saying that they would support Somchai as premier when Parliament meets on Wednesday (17 Sept).

PPP sources said both Sompong and Surapong had told the PPP executive committee that they would not contest the premiership.

Surapong, the caretaker finance minister and deputy premier, also said he would not accept any post in the new Cabinet.

Sahas Banditkul, a caretaker deputy premier and close aide of former premier Samak Sundaravej, also tendered his resignation.

Following Monday's walkout, PPP Nakhon Ratchasima MP Bunchong Wongtrairat, a leader of the Newin faction, showed a list of 73 signatures of the faction's MPs, who signed to demand that the choice of new PM must not create confrontation and conflict within the party.

The group urged the party to heed public opinion over who should be the next PM and disagreed with the move to issue a law granting amnesty to the 111 former executives of the Thai Rak Thai Party.

PPP Nakhon Phanom MP Supachai Phothisu, another member of the Newin faction, said if the party's executive board refused to review the resolution, his group's members would exercise their rights guaranteed by the Constitution to decide on their own on the PM nomination.

PPP deputy leader Kan Tienkawe said many factions in the party agreed that those who support Somchai as PM should join the Puea Thai Party if the PPP is dissolved. Those who did not support Somchai may move to other parties. (By PIYANART SRIVALO And NAYA JAIKAWANG/ The Nation/ ANN)

MySinchew 2008.09.16