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Thaksin clings onto power - a government-aligned Elections Commission is selected but Thai elections likely to be postponed

Updated On: Sep 12, 2006

At the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Helsinki, Thaksin said that the participating leaders in this international meeting congratulated him for the “improvement in Thai politics”.

He also assured that there was no secret coup-planning underway. “I've never said that there was any movement suggestive of a coup plan. From as far as I know, there's no such movement for the time being,” he told the media.

Answering their queries of when the new polls would be held, Thaksin said that it was likely that the elections would be postponed. Earlier on in Tajikistan, he had postulated that elections could possibly be held in November.

While there may not be a coup, Thaksin has to battle internal infighting within his Thai Rak Thai party as the new elections loom overhead. A faction supporting Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is urging Thaksin to quit and let Somkid take over. However, the Nation reported that “other MPs believe he does not have the leadership skills and cannot coordinate factions in the party and other political parties”. The TRT will be holding a meeting soon to decide who should be the next PM –still, it is likely Thaksin has the most backing from the party. It is said that if Thaksin decides to step down, TRT deputy leader Sudarat Keyuraphan is a potential successor “because she has the leadership skills and can coordinate with other parties and within the party,” the high-ranking TRT source told the Nation.

Meanwhile, the new five-member Elections Commission selected by the Thai Senate last Friday has said that it needs more time to ensure a free and fair election. The Bangkok Post reported that the new commissioners comprising four judges and a public prosecutor felt that the polls should be postponed.  As it stands, the EC has the competence to decide when the polls should be held.

It is said that the three candidates critical of the government, Kaewsan Atipho, Nam Yimyaem and Vicha Mahakhun, failed to secure enough votes in the selection process.  Critics have already denounced the Senate’s choice saying it was “was still under government control” as 67 senators out of 187 had “voted for the same five candidates, all of whom are aligned with the government,” the Bangkok Post reported. Still, the public is urged to believe in the creditability of the new EC and allow it to carry out a fair election soon.

Chuan Leekpai, chairman of the opposition Democrat Party, told the media that he hoped the new commissioners would be able to carry out their duties impartially. He said, “I hope the new commissioners will be able to prevent election fraud and irregularities because the last poll was said to be dishonest… I guess the Thaksin regime and its political influence is still evident, as seen in the Senate votes for the new EC members… Still, all five new commissioners are good guys, but they will have to work hard. They need to understand new fraudulent techniques and introduce preventative measures.”

Sources:

Waiting for EC, senators find ways to keep busy (The Nation, 11 September 2006)

Foreign leaders keen on progress (The Nation, 11 September 2006)

There will be no coup in Thailand says PM (The Nation, 11 September 2006)

EC eyes earliest possible new date (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

Prem 'can handle political pressure' (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

Thaksin takes campaign to Helsinki (Bangkok Post, 10 September 2006)

Public role 'paramount' to new EC (Bangkok Post, 10 September 2006)

Thaksin in Tajikistan for talks on energy, terrorism, drugs (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

Elections to be postponed: PM (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

Five EC members selected (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

Prem 'can handle political pressure' (The Nation, 10 September 2006)

'Thaksin will resist pressure from within' (The Nation, 9 September 2006)

Senate picks new EC (Bangkok Post, 9 September 2006)