As tensions rise with the exacerbating mass protests, there is speculation that Thaksin may step down to ease the crisis.
Already political observers have interpreted the promotion of Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wannasathit as ''first-in-line'' deputy prime minister as the first step of his plans to resign. However, Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Kruengarm tried to deny that the promotion has anything to do with the possibility of Thaksin’s resignation.
Apart from constitutional contentions whether it is legal for Thaksin to groom a successor as many are arguing, The Nation reported a “highly-placed source” as saying that “negotiation is taking place to ease [the] political crisis with a change in the prime minister.” This is meant to “find a potential candidate to replace embattled caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The list includes Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Bokhin Palangkura.”
Added on to the latest news that Thaksin is indeed considering to step down, these developments seem to point to the inevitable resignation. The Prime Minister told the media in Buri Ram he is considering a proposal to step aside for a neutral replacement to allow elections and constitutional reform. “It is a good proposal, and I am considering this.” However, he also insisted that he would “disclose [his] decision only when the time is right and… based on the benefit of the country, not influenced by the demands” of anti-Thaksin demonstrators.
Thaksin continues to equivocate on his position as a few hours later, he declared, “I still have more to do. When the job is done, I see no reason to stay on. I will be 57 soon. I've never considered a temporary break from politics. It is not the point. Enough will be enough,’’
Whatever it is, Bangkokians have had enough. The Bangkok Post reported that “over two-thirds of the respondents - 69.4% of a total 1,205 interviewed respondents, including both supporters and opponents of Thaksin - demanded an end to the rally and indicated that all conflicting sides resolve their differences through peaceful talks.”
This point has been reiterated by Privy Council chairman Prem Tinsulanonda. He said, “All concerned with the situation are grown-up, knowledgeable people who mean well for the country. I ask all sides to think and act in the best interests of our country and people… I ask you to take this message to those who may help defuse the situation. [They] should put the people's happiness and unity first and should think of what they should do to defuse the situation. I hope they all can.” He refused to comment on whether Thaksin should resign or take a break from politics. In any case, Sondhi Limthongkul of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) insisted that Thaksin must step down and Chamlong Srimuang, also of the PAD, says that his resignation must be permanent.
Put the nation first, says Prem, Bangkok Post, 16 March 2006
Queries over Chidchai promotion, Bangkok Post, 16 March 2006
Thaksin must quit, not take a break, says Chamlong, Bangkok Post, 16 March 2006
Thaksin waffles on stepping aside, Bangkok Post, 16 March 2006
Rally-weary Bangkok 'wants talks', Bangkok Post, 16 March 2006
Government will use Foreign Ministry as a temporary office, The Nation, 16 March 2006
Peaceful ending sought, The Nation, 16 March 2006
Negotiation to replace embattled PM is on the way, The Nation, 16 March 2006