The Thai courts are set for a busy time as they assemble to review the legality of the elections, as requested by the King last week.
The pressure is on them to deliver an impartial verdict as the people place their hopes on the three top judges. A recent survey by Assumption University of 1,863 people living in Bangkok showed more than 60% of them trusted the Supreme, Administrative and Constitution Courts. Moreover, 51.4% felt that the Election Commission should resign if the April 2 election was nullified. 41.7% also expressed a desire for a “neutral” party to be the next premier with Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda topping the list of potential “neutral” candidates. However, an almost equal percentage (41.6%) of the respondents were undecided if a “neutral” prime minister was what was good for Thailand.
These findings pour cold water on Abhisit Vejjajiva’s and Thaksin Shinawatra’s aspirations to ascend to the top political office. Democrat leader Abhisit has declared that he is ready to become prime minister, assuring the people that he would prioritise education, and be transparent in privitisation issues and tackle corruption. He assured that “his party was an alternative choice which could save Thailand from crises and steer it towards a good economy and a moral society”, and that “Thailand needed a leader who was moral and absolutely honest, without conflicts of interest or hidden agendas”, the Bangkok Post reported. He announced that the Democrat party was ready to run for election anytime the April 2 polls were nullified.
Meanwhile, Major-General Sanan Kachornprasart, the Mahachon leader, also asserted that his party was ready to run for elections, demanding that all the election commissioners shoulder responsibility for the unfair April 2 polls by resigning. New parties are also on the verge of being formed for the next elections. Kittichai Saisaard, deputy leader of the confederation of state enterprise workers, proposed a party that will protect workers by pushing for the abolition of unfair employment contracts, and will work with academics and non-governmental organizations to fine-tune its agenda.
Acting Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathithas hinted that Thai Rak Thai leader Thaksin will re-enter the new elections in the case the April 2 polls were invalidated by the courts. It would seem Thaksin is anticipating new developments and has cut short his holiday to return to Bangkok. However, observers fear more chaos if Thaksin returns to contest.
Chaiyaphan Praphasawat, the director of the Institute for Community Rights, said people would oppose Thaksin's return to power and the “conflicts will be more severe and there could be bloodshed”. However, Chidchai defended Thaksin, saying Thaksin had constitutional rights to run for election. “Everybody has equal rights under the Constitution and his decision not to take the position of prime minister is now in the past. The cards have been shuffled [if the courts cancel the election]… A court order would mean everything will start from the beginning,” the Nation reported.
New labour, democracy parties urged for next poll (The Nation, 30 April 2006)
Abhisit: I'm ready to be PM (Bangkok Post, 30 April 2006)
Constitution Court to meet today (The Nation, 1 May 2006)
Public confidence firm in country's courts (The Nation, 1 May 2006)
Return could lead to bloodshed, say critics (The Nation, 1 May 2006)
Thaksin 'likely' to run in new poll (Bangkok Post, 1 May 2006)