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Thailand may not have new govt till September

Written by: Staff

Bangkok, May 10: Thailand may not have a new government until September after last month's snap general election was declared unlawful, the Supreme Court said today.

It could take that long to clear constitutional and political hurdles in the way of ending a protracted crisis triggered by a campaign on Bangkok's streets against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Supreme Court spokesman Wirat Chinwinigkul said.

The projection was based on the assumption that all four current election commissioners would resign and it would take a month to select replacements, he told a radio station.

Then it would take three months for an election campaign and another month for a full parliament to convene and form a new government, he said.

''Thailand has to wait three to five months, or till September, before we get a new government,'' he said. ''How fast we will have it depends on the conscience of senior people of all parties who must share mutual responsibility.'' Yesterday, the chiefs of the Supreme, Administrative and Constitutional Courts agreed to supervise the new poll to help restore the loss of public confidence in elections.

The courts gave no details of how they would supervise the election, but a spokesman said Supreme Court judges would propose that the next meeting of the three courts ask the Election Commission to quit to accept responsibility for the April 2 poll.

It also remained unclear when the election would be held and whether Thaksin would seek to retain the job if his Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party won a third successive victory.

The constitution requires the Supreme Court to nominate up to 10 candidates for the Election Commission and the Senate to pick five.

There are other uncertainties despite the involvement of Thailand's three top courts at the behest of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who told them to sort out the ''mess'' after the election left parliament seats empty and unable to convene. The Constitutional Court, which ruled the April 2 election unlawful, released its full verdict today saying a new poll must be held within 60 days of a new election decree being issued.

But it did not set a time limit for the government to issue a decree authorising a re-run of an election Thaksin called three years early to counter a campaign by foes who accused him of corruption and abuse of power, charges he denied.

But the plan backfired when the three main opposition parties refused to take part.

Thaksin announced a ''political break'' after the poll, handing day-to-day power to a deputy even though he remained prime minister officially.

He said then he would not be a candidate for prime minister when parliament met to elect one, but his party now says the annulment of the polls meant he was entitled to change his mind.

If Thai Rak Thai won the re-run election, which the opposition parties have promised to contest, and Thaksin did take the post, the street campaign suspended after he stepped aside could resume.

Thaksin, who has made few specific comments to reporters in recent weeks, remained vague today.

''Just wait until we see a clear direction because all the rules have been changed and we still don't know what the new rules will be,'' he told told reporters.

But he insisted he would remain party leader.

''I have so much energy to burn,'' he said.''


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