Monday, December 1, 2008

Thailand: court ruling might diffuse airport crisis


A Constitutional Court ruling could diffuse the crisis in Thailand, reports Bloomberg:

Some government supporters have threatened to surround the Constitutional Court tomorrow, when judges will rule on whether to dissolve the ruling People Power Party and two coalition partners for vote buying. A guilty verdict would force Somchai and dozens of party executives to step down, and may prompt protesters to leave the airports.

“This is a coordinated effort to overthrow the government, though it is made to look like justice being done,” said Veera Musikapong, a pro-government leader. “This is a coup in disguise.”

Non-executive members of the parties set to be disbanded, which account for more than half of the 480 lawmakers in Parliament, may then join a new party created to receive pro- Thaksin politicians.

If the parties are dissolved, lawmakers would need to hold a parliamentary session to pick a new prime minister, while anti- government protesters may look to install an appointed government.

“Things should get better if the court verdict turns out that way,” Suriyasai Katasila, one of the PAD leaders, told the Channel 9 television station late yesterday. “If that happens, it may help defuse the political crisis,” Suriyasai said.

“The PAD wants an interim administration of some kind, but there are no constitutional provisions for that,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute for Strategic and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “They would have to have constitutional clauses suspended by the courts unless the army seizes power.”

See my previous post, "Thailand airport crisis: what happens next?"

Update 1: Bangkok Pundit also blogged on this article. You can read his comments here. BP argues that the pro-government demonstrators should avoid activities that might be seem as intimidating (such as surrounding a courthouse). Indeed, it would be foolish for them to cross the line. If both sides show contempt for the rule of law, this can only make PAD's outrageous behavior seem less so.

Update 2: The Independent has an article about Sunday's pro-government rally in Bangkok attended by at least 20,000.

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