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Thai PM keeps options open after October election

Written by: Staff

BANGKOK, Aug 9 (Reuters) Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, facing another election in October, said today he would remain in politics if voters wanted him to, but did not say explicitly whether he would run again for the top job.

''I'm considering whether or not to be prime minister again,'' Thaksin told a crowd of around 500 northeastern villagers and farmers on a tour marking the start of the campaign for a general election scheduled for October 15.

''If you want me to carry on with my job, working for all of you, I will,'' he said. ''Every time I visit all of you in remote areas like this I feel that I can't ignore you.'' Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party is expected to win the election, which most Thais hopes will mark the end of the political mess left behind by another general election in April that did not produce a valid parliament before being annulled.

However, analysts believe TRT will have a reduced majority from the previous valid election, in February 2005, when it secured 377 out of 500 seats in parliament.

Thaksin called the snap April poll in the hope that his overwhelming rural support would silence an anti-corruption street campaign in Bangkok calling for his resignation.

However, an opposition boycott of the April poll left many seats in parliament unfilled, leaving Thaksin unable to form a government and the country stuck with a caretaker administration which cannot take major policy decisions.

Even though October's election suggests a route out of the crisis, many uncertainties remain -- not least election abuse charges against Thai Rak Thai and the main opposition Democrat party that could see both disbanded.

Some analysts are speculating whether Thaksin -- who also faces a prejury lawsuit in September brought by an American businessman -- will face pressure from inside his party to yield the prime minister's position to a senior associate.


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