Capo backs King’s say on cabinet fate

Capo backs King’s say on cabinet fate

Govt issues challenge to charter court ruling

Chalerm Yubamrung chairs the Capo meeting Thursday.
Chalerm Yubamrung chairs the Capo meeting Thursday.

The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) under its chairman Chalerm Yubamrung has urged the caretaker government to seek His Majesty the King’s advice if the cabinet is suspended by a looming court decision.

The move by Capo is widely seen as an attempt by the government to launch an offensive against its opponents after spending months on the back foot.

The "Capo Statement No.1" was read to the media by Tarit Pengdith, who is the head of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and secretary of the peace-keeping group. The meeting was chaired by caretaker Labour Minister and Capo director Chalerm Yubamrung.

The statement said the Court has no authority to remove the government, and set out steps to take if the Constitutional Court or others "exceed their authority". It argued that since royal authority established the cabinet, it would take equal authority to order it disbanded.

It came as the Constitutional Court is set to deliver a ruling on a case against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra relating to the improper transfer of National Security Council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri in 2011.

If the court rules against Ms Yingluck, she faces the prospect of being stripped of her powers as premier, a move which some legal experts believe would also disqualify her entire caretaker cabinet.

A separate case against Ms Yingluck before the National Anti-Corruption Commission also threatens her future as premier.

Capo on Thursday called a meeting to discuss possible political scenarios if the charter court and the NACC rule against Ms Yingluck.

After the meeting, Capo said it had obtained information indicating possible violence as a result of planned rallies by pro-and anti-government groups.

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and the pro-government United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) plan to stage demonstrations to coincide with the NACC and charter court rulings.

However, the UDD decided to call off its rally planned for Friday after the charter court said on Thursday it would wait until Wednesday to decide whether to allow Ms Yingluck another 15-day extension to defend herself in the Thawil transfer case.

If indicted by the NACC, Ms Yingluck will be required to step down from all official roles, although government supporters argue that she can appoint one of her deputies to act on her behalf to avoid a power vacuum.

In the Thawil transfer case, the caretaker government and its supporters expect the charter court will “rule beyond the constitution” to disqualify Ms Yingluck and her cabinet, Capo said.

This would create a power vacuum, enabling the PDRC to cite Section 7 of the constitution to appoint a “neutral” prime minister. The UDD, however, will not accept the ruling, which could lead to a potentially violent confrontation, Capo warned.

The security agency expressed concern about the situation and called on all sides to find ways to resolve the conflict.

Capo said if the charter court rules beyond the constitution to disqualify the caretaker cabinet, the cabinet must find ways to prevent a power vacuum.

It suggested seeking His Majesty the King’s advice on whether the caretaker cabinet would be required to step down as a result of the court ruling.

Capo said the cabinet was appointed by royal command, and so its removal should also be ordered through a royal command rather than a court ruling.

The agency also suggested the cabinet inform His Majesty that it will continue to perform its duties until a new cabinet takes office, as required by Section 181 of the charter.

Capo said seeking royal advice on the issue will end the political conflict and restore peace to the country, and will prevent the cabinet from violating Section 181.

King Prajadhipok’s Institute deputy secretary-general Wuthisarn Tanchai said Capo’s statement indicated the government has now “laid its cards on the table” and launched an offensive for the first time after many months of deflecting PDRC attacks.

“The government has never had a hand to play,” Mr Wuthisarn said. “Today, it seems to have come up with an idea to ask its opponents whether they want to take a risk.”

However, he noted that while the cabinet can seek an audience with His Majesty for advice on national affairs, it is up to the monarch to decide whether to grant such a request.

Mr Wuthisarn also warned that those seeking a royal audience must bear in mind whether such a request is appropriate. He believed the government’s move is only a bluff.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut blasted Capo’s statement, accusing the government of rejecting judicial authority and attempting to burden His Majesty with the government’s problems.

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