Thai Parliament postpones vote on next premier

Other News Materials 12 September 2008 08:35 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Thailand's Parliament on Friday postponed a vote on a new prime minister after a court sacked premier Samak Sundaravej this week for moonlighting as a television cooking show host.

Samak had been renominated for the job he lost Tuesday, but the failure by many of his own People Power Party (PPP) members to show up for Friday's vote demonstrated the strong opposition to his reinstatement.

House Speaker Chai Chitchob decided to postpone the special session after failing to meet a quorum of at least half the 480 members of the House of Representatives. The meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

Samak was the leading candidate to become prime minister even though he just lost the job when the Constitution Court found him guilty of violating Thailand's charter by excepting outside employment during his premiership.

Although the court's guilty verdict forced Samak to resign his post, it did not strip him of his member of Parliament status, paving the way for his possible re-election by his PPP, which holds 223 of the 480 seats in the lower chamber.

The PPP named Samak as its nominee Thursday, but the nomination was far from unanimous.

Somchai Petprasert, a PPP member of Parliament, had said about 70 PPP lawmakers would abstain from voting for Samak Friday because they felt he would not be able to solve Thailand's political crisis.

Samak, who became premier in February, has been the target of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) anti-government movement, which seized Government House, the seat of the administration, on August 26 and has occupied it since.

The PAD insists it would not vacate Government House until Samak and the PPP are out of power.

The PAD was instrumental in the toppling of former prime minister Thaksin Shinwatara, who was ousted by a bloodless military coup on September 19, 2006. PAD leaders view Samak and the PPP as proxies for the toppled Thaksin regime.

Should Samak he reappointed, his premiership might prove short-lived once again.

Thailand's Appeal Court is scheduled to rule September 25 on whether to uphold a guilty verdict against Samak in a defamation case by the Bangkok Criminal Court.

If found guilty, Samak might go to jail.