Democrat-led Thai government emerging, party claimsDecember 6th, 2008 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS
Bangkok, Dec 6 (DPA) Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party Saturday claimed that it had mustered enough support from smaller parties and a faction from the former ruling People Power Party (PPP) to form a new coalition government.Democrat secretary general Suthep Thuagsuban announced the new, somewhat surprising development at a press conference at Bangkok’s posh Sukhothai Hotel.
He claimed that the Democrats, Thailand’s oldest political party, had mustered enough support from the “Friends of Newin” breakaway faction from the PPP and its former coalition partners the Chart Thai, Matchiamathipataya and Puea Paendin parties to form a new coalition government.
If the new political alliance does not fall apart between now and the reconvening of Parliament some time next week, Democrat leader Aphisit Vejjajiva is likely to become Thailand’s next prime minister.
The development might take Thailand a step towards political normalcy after six months of street portests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that culminated in their seizure of Bangkok’s two international airports that shut the capital off from commercial flights for a week.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the capital’s new airport, was officially reopened for business Friday, after being completely closed between Nov 26 to December by thousands of followers of the PAD, causing incalculable damage to the country’s exports and tourism sector.
The PAD, which has been backed by the Democrats and members of Thailand’s so-called “political elite”, is a movement dedicated to blocking the return of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra to power and ending his behind-the-scenes control over his political allies.
PAD lifted their siege of Suvarnabhumi Wednesday after former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, was forced to step down by a court ruling that his PPP had committed election fraud in the Dec 23, 2007, polls, effectively banning Somchai and half the former cabinet from politics for five years.
Two other former coalition partners of the PPP, Chart Thai and Matchiamathipataya were also dissolved by the court ruling.
Elected members of parliament from the three dissolved parties have shifted to other newly set up parties with the majority of the PPP moving to Puea Thai.
But a PPP faction loyal to Newin Chidchop, whose father Chai Chidchop is the current House Speaker, have reportedly shifted their alliance to the Democrats after being asked to do so by the politically powerful military.
Thailand is currently under a caretaker government headed by acting Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul, another Newin ally.
The new development in Thailand’s ongoing politcal drama unfolded as Thaksin’s ex-wife, Pojaman, returned to Bangkok on a flight Friday night.
When the PAD ended their airport occupation their leaders warned that another “Thaksin proxy” government would bring them back to the streets.
Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in September 2006, and on Oct 21, 2008, was found guilty of abuse of power when he allowed his wife Pojaman to successfully bid on a plot of prime Bangkok land at a government auction during his premiership in 2003.
The Supreme Court for Poltical Office Holders sentenced Thaiksi to two years in jail.
Thaksin has criticised the verdict as being politically motivated and recently vowed to return to politics, despite his fugitive status.