Ex-deputy premier calls for coup to solve Thai political stalemate

Former deputy prime minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has called for a military coup as the only means of solving Thailand's political stalemate, the Bangkok Post reported Friday.

"There is no other way out," said Chavalit, in an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post, an English-language daily, dpa reported.

"I see a putsch. After the military steps in, power should immediately be returned to the people and an interim government can be formed in which every party takes part," he said.

Thailand's current Army commander-in-chief General Anupong Paojinda has repeatedly ruled out staging a coup to solve Thailand's political woes.

The military's last coup was on September 19, 2006, when tanks were rolled in to Bangkok to oust former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now living in exile in London.

The coup and a military-installed interim government in 2007 failed to prevent to return of a pro-Thaksin government under the People Power Party, which won the December 23, 2007 general election.

Chavalit, notorious for his somewhat muddled politics, resigned as deputy prime minister on Tuesday in the wake of a police crackdown on thousands of followers of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who had laid siege to Parliament.

Chavlit, who was prime minister when Thailand and the region were plunged into the Asian financial crisis in July 1997, had been assigned by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to negotiate a reconciliation with the PAD, which has occupied Government House since August 26.

The PAD is a loose collation of politically conservative groups staunchly opposed to former premier Thaksin and his style of populist politics and corrupt practices.

It has vowed to overthrow the current government which is now led by Somchai, Thaksin's brother-in-law.

Enjoying widespread support from Bangkok's middle class and certain members of the "political elite," the PAD poses a problem for Thailand's police force and the military.

Riot police were severely criticized for firing tear gas canisters at the PAD protestors on Tuesday, sparking a confrontation between police and demonstrators that left two dead and more than 400 injured.

There is pressure on both the PAD and the government to resolve their differences before mid-November, when a state funeral will be held for Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of Thailand's much-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 80.

The princess died in January.

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