PM shoots down quit rumours
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PM shoots down quit rumours

Srettha's fate to be decided by court

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House on May 31. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House on May 31. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin denied a rumour that he would resign or dissolve the House of Representatives before the Constitutional Court hands down a ruling in a case that could lead to him being removed from office for appointing controversial politician Pichit Chuenban as a PM's Office minister.

"I never think about [resignation or a House dissolution]. Let the legal procedure take its course. I never think of running away," Mr Srettha said on Friday.

"When the judges have questions, I have the duty to explain and respect their decision," he said, adding that a team of his lawyers has sent a list of additional witnesses to the court.

The case against Mr Srettha was initiated by a group of 40 senators who, in May, asked the Constitutional Court if the prime minister and Pichit should be removed from office under Section 170 (4) and (5) of the charter, which deals with the ethics of cabinet ministers.

Pichit resigned just before the court accepted the petition, which was seen as a bid to spare Mr Srettha from a legal wrangle.

The court agreed to hear the case against Mr Srettha but rejected the case against Pichit because he had already stepped down.

The court instructed related parties to submit their lists of witnesses and evidence by this coming Monday before it is scheduled to hear the case on the following day.

Mr Srettha could lose his job if the court rules against him. However, the prime minister's chances of winning the case are believed to have improved after he appointed legal specialist Wissanu Krea-ngam as an adviser.

Mr Wissanu, whose first task was to check the details of the prime minister's defence, said earlier in the week this covered both facts and legal issues prepared by the prime minister's secretariat and the Council of State.

The former deputy prime minister said he did not draft the prime minister's defence but helped review the documents before they were submitted to the court on June 7.

The appointment of Pichit -- who once served as ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's lawyer and Mr Srettha's adviser -- as PM's Office minister raised questions about his eligibility to serve in the cabinet. This was because he served jail time for contempt of court in connection with an attempted bribery case when he represented Thaksin in a controversial land deal case in 2008. On June 25 that year, the Supreme Court sentenced Pichit and two of his colleagues to six months in prison after they tried to bribe court officials with 2 million baht in cash.

Meanwhile, Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, told the Bangkok Post about the importance of some of the cases pending in the Constitutional Court this month.

"The outcome of the court cases could change the political landscape," Mr Yuttaporn said.

If Mr Srettha is removed from office, a new prime minister will be elected by parliament, and a fresh political alliance may be forged to establish a new coalition government, Mr Yuttaporn said.

If the main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) is disbanded in another case, some of its party members may also move to other parties that could join a new coalition government, he added.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday will also hear a case against the MFP, which could potentially result in the party's dissolution, he said.

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