Associated Press
Samak Sundaravej

Ousted Thai PM Samak Nominated to Lead Again

September 11, 2008 01:25 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Samak Sundaravej, forced out of office two days ago by a court ruling, has accepted the nomination of his political party to replace himself as the new prime minister.

Will Samak Make a Comeback?

I am accepting the nomination in order to protect democracy in the country,” Samak said, according to the BBC.

Samak’s party, the People’s Power Party (PPP) says that the constitution does not prevent re-nominating the 73-year-old former prime minister, but the move is likely to face severe criticism from the party’s coalition partners.

The Thai army released a statement after the announcement calling for the deeply divided government to compromise and to remove the state of emergency that Samak imposed on Bangkok 10 days ago, when he was still prime minister.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy, whose members have been holding street demonstrations for months to throw Samak out of office, expressed their opposition to the nomination. “Our stand remains the same, we will not accept Samak or anyone proposed from the PPP, because the party lacks legitimacy,” siad protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul to Agence France-Presse. “They violated the constitution and lack morals.”

Thailand’s Constitution Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej violated a law against working for private companies while prime minister by hosting two cooking TV shows.

The ruling required him to leave office immediately, but allowed for him to be re-elected into office by parliament. Samak says that the charges are politically motivated and has denied any wrongdoing.

Background: Cooking Shows Land Samak in Hot Water

Samak had hosted the shows “Touring at 6 a.m.” and “Tasting and Grumbling,” which featured the prime minister cooking up traditional Thai dishes such as Tom Kha Salmon, with a side of political rants on various topics.

Samak’s seven-month rule was marked by months of street protests by members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Despite the ruling, the demonstrators have vowed to continue to occupy the prime minister’s compound. “We will stay here until this government is thrown out,” said PAD leader Prapan Kunmee, according to Reuters.

He refused last week to negotiate with demonstrators, but proposed holding a public referendum to determine if he should stay or go.

In a special radio address broadcast last Thursday, Samak said that he would protect democracy against those who wish to bring “anarchy” to Thailand. “I am not resigning, I will not dissolve parliament. I have to stay in order to preserve democracy and to protect the monarchy,” he said.

Nonetheless, Samak said the following day that he was considering ending the emergency rule that he imposed on the country Sept. 2 in response to violent clashes between government supporters and protesters seeking to oust Samak from office. “Yes, I am thinking about that,” he said, according to Forbes.

Protest leaders said that they would not abandon their three-month-old bid to get rid of Samak. The Associated Press reported that the Government House had “turned into a cross between a refugee camp and a village fairground,” with thousands of protesters enjoying amenities such as free food and massages.

Key Player: Samak Sundaravej

Sundaravej grew up in an aristocratic family and graduated from Thammasat University with a degree in law. Before becoming prime minister, he served in the interior ministry, was one of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s deputy prime ministers and was governor of Bangkok for four years. His rule, which began in January 2008, has been marked by protests, a poor economy and rising inflation. He has also come under criticism for his close ties with and support of ousted former leader Shinawatra. Samak’s People Power Party (PPP) was formed from the remnants of Thaksin’s Thak Rak Thai party.

Related Topic: ‘Former Thai Prime Minister Flees Corruption Charges’


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