Friday, September 19, 2008

Thaksin still boss?

A People Power party envoy is believed to be on his way to London to submit the potential line-up of the Somchai Wongsawat cabinet for the perusal of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yongyuth Tiyapairat, a former deputy leader of the People Power party, has been ordered to Britain by new prime minister Somchai Wongsawat to update Mr Thaksin on the political situation and seek his advice on allotment of cabinet seats, a source in the PPP said.

Some changes could be made to the proposed line-up based on his advice.

The report of the list being delivered to London came after His Majesty the King on Thursday endorsed the nomination of deputy PPP leader Somchai Wongsawat as the new prime minister.

The royal command appointing Mr Somchai was accepted by Parliament President Chai Chidchob who was granted an audience with the King to nominate Mr Somchai at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin.

The source said the line-up has yet to be finalised. It is being prepared by core party members, including Mr Yongyuth and deputy PPP leader Sompong Amornwiwat and is expected to be finalised on Sunday, before being readied for royal endorsement.

The source said attempts are under way to weaken the political clout of former Thai Rak Thai executive Newin Chidchob who commands the rebellious Friends of Newin faction in the PPP.

The faction, which has 73 MPs under its wing, opposed Mr Somchai's nomination but then had a change of heart.

The source said Mr Sompong is likely to be moved from the Justice Ministry to the Interior Ministry, where he is expected to challenge Mr Newin's clout.

It is also reported that the Friends of Newin faction will lose the seat being held by Supol Fongngam, deputy interior minister.

The post is not in the quota held by the Friends of Newin group as claimed, said the source.

Rifts over the allocation of cabinet seats in the faction are also emerging.

Chaiya Promma, a member of the Friends of Newin group, said the four ministers in the group's quota should be changed. The group should meet to discuss candidates for the cabinet posts.

"If the four ministers retain the seats, there will be problems. I call for changes so that we can compare their performance," he said, adding some MPs have been lobbying others to support them for cabinet portfolios.

A group of 40 PPP MPs, meanwhile, signed a petition to block Puea Pandin leader Suvit Khunkitti from joining the cabinet. Their move follows speculation he will be named industry minister.

PPP MP for Lop Buri Suchart Lainamngern, said the party MPs question Mr Suvit's loyalty, citing the Puea Pandin leader's pullout from the Samak Sundaravej government in late July.

Chaiyos Jiramethakarn, spokesman for the Puea Pandin party, shrugged off the campaign, saying the move did not create conflict, although it might have spoiled the atmosphere.

He also criticised the PPP for meddling in Puea Pandin's affairs.

PAD core leader Chamlong Srimuang said Thursday that the PAD would continue its protest and would not negotiate with Mr Somchai.

Sondhi Limthongkul, another PAD core leader, said he would unveil the PAD's proposal for a new political order on Monday, and clear any questions over the issue.

PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said the group has agreed on three points — the protest will continue without any negotiations with the government, it will oppose constitution amendments and it will push for a new political order.

Following royal endorsement, Mr Somchai promised to work to achieve national reconciliation and unity.

Quoting Mr Chai, he said the King urged the quick formation of a new cabinet to tackle the country's problems.

He said the government expects to deliver its policy statement on Sept 25.

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