April: Month of political chaos?
- Published: 31/03/2014 at 09:44 AM
- Online news:
Latest: PM testifies in person at NACC. Analysts say political temperatures could be at hot season levels during April as court decisions threaten to break the caretaker government, prompting a response from its red-shirt supporters.
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Prime Minister Yingluck arrives at the National Counter Corruption Commission this afternoon with her legal team. CHANAT KATANYU
Speculation was high that Prime Minister Yingluck would only submit written testimony to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, but after keeping the media guessing all morning, she appeared in person at the Commission at around 2.10pm and spent about 30 minutes testifying.
Election Commissioner Prasart Phonsiwapai applauded her willingness to appear and said the NACC would be fair, straightforward and transparent in dealing with her case. He said she asked that the NACC question 10 more witnesses and submitted a large number of documents clarifying her role in the rice-pledging scheme. Mr Prasart said the Commission would carefully consider her request.
Wearing a foot brace on her left foot, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra casts her vote in the senate election in Bung Kum district yesterday. Ms Yingluck sprained her ankle during a recent trip to Chiang Mai. She, or her lawyers, is today set to face the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to clarify a negligence of duty charge. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
As of noon, there had been no word from the caretaker prime minsiter as to whether she would appear before the NACC in person or make a written statement through her lawyers. In fact, reporters weren't even sure where she was. The expectation now was that a written statement was most likely.
At NACC headquarters, the situation was quiet with neither government supporters or opponents in the area.
Month of political chaos approaches
The tension looks set to intensify from today when caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to appear in person before the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC) to clarify a negligence of duty charge over her role in the rice-pledging scheme.
A highly-placed source in the NACC believes the graft fighters will take about 10 days to examine the case and make a ruling. If the agency decides to indict her, the caretaker prime minister is required to suspend her duties — a scenario that will put the caretaker government's stability at stake.
Caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has conceded that even though a deputy prime minister could assume the premiership, the government's stability will be seriously affected. Suriyasai Katasila, a core member of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), even suggests the entire administration may have to stop working because the rice pledging policy has been declared before the parliament. However, this issue is open to debate.
It remains unknown if Ms Yingluck, who criticised the NACC for its alleged double standards and unfair treatment, will testify before the NACC.
"I need to consult with my lawyers first and I will tell you [if I will appear in person]. We can either testify or give a written statement. But we have limited time," she told reporters yesterday.
Ms Yingluck stressed that she and her lawyers received 280 more pages of case documents three days before the deadline and criticised the NACC for denying her request seeking to extend giving her testimony.
In addition, she said other related documents she has requested from other agencies have yet been received.
On Wednesday the Constitutional Court is expected to decide if it will accept a petition by a group of senators asking it to rule on the prime minister's status. The petition was lodged after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled her order to remove Thawil Pliensri as National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general was unlawful.
Several political observers believe the Thawil ruling will bring the curtain down on the Yingluck administration. With the Supreme Administrative Court ruling in place, the Constitutional Court can hand down a ruling without holding further hearings.
Unlike the rice scheme ruling under the NACC process, the Thawill ruling under the Constitutional Court doesn't need to be forwarded to the Senate for proposed impeachment of Ms Yingluck.
If the Constitutional Court rules against Ms Yingluck, the prime minister will have to immediately leave office and take with her the entire cabinet. This will create a "political vacuum" that the anti-government PDRC hopes will set the stage for the establishment of a neutral government to implement national reforms.
Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, ex-finance minister under the Yingluck administration, earlier commented that the case could shut down the government faster than that of the rice scheme.
PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban apparently believes things will play out like that when he announced on the stage on Saturday night that the protests will end in April and the Yingluck government will lose power.
However, this is not beyond the government's and the red shirts' expectations.
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship chairman Jatuporn Prompan said the red-shirt mass rally on April 5 will prepare for a "special situation" and is expected to draw as many as 500,000 supporters. THANARAK KHOONTON
Red-shirt leaders across the country organised a meeting in Ayutthaya last Saturday to discuss a planned mass rally on April 5 and to apparently prepare for a possible "special situation."
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship chairman Jatuporn Prompan said the mass rally on April 5 is expected to draw as many as 500,000 supporters and one million people will be mobilised if the situation drags on.
However, Mr Jatuporn assured the UDD movement's fight to protect the government would be peaceful, without weapons.
You can read the full story here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/402598/month-of-political-chaos-approaches
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- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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