Thai PM casts doubt on October election

25 February 2007

KUALA LUMPUR – Thailand’s army-installed prime minister has cast
doubt over whether elections will go ahead in October as promised by
the military leadership, Malaysian state media said Sunday.

Surayud Chulanot said Thailand’s interim government was proceeding with its timetable but could not confirm an October election.

“I cannot say at the moment,” Surayud said in an interview with the official Bernama news agency, when asked about the deadline.

“It still depends a lot on the drafting committee, like when it is
able to provide the first draft for a referendum, or when we can set a
timeframe for the referendum. After the referendum, we will proceed
with the general elections,” he said.

The military ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a
bloodless coup on September 19 last year, and quickly scrapped the
constitution and imposed martial law.

Work has begun on drafting a new constitution, which must be
approved by a referendum, while the military has also said it will hold
elections by October to restore democracy by year’s end.

“As a government, if we can proceed with the planned time-table, I
think that’s a success,” Surayud said, adding he was “confident”
elections would be held.

A poll earlier this month by a Thai university showed public
approval of the army-installed government had plunged and Surayud’s
popularity had fallen to 48 percent from nearly 71 percent in November.

But the premier said he had a mandate from the public and would continue in his position until the return to democracy.

“I received this job with a strong mandate from the people that I
have to be here to serve (and to attend to) the political and security
problems in Thailand,” he told Bernama.

– AFP/ir


February 25, 2007 16:45 PM E-mail this news to a friend
Printable version of this news

Surayud To Fade Out Of Politics Once Elections Are Held


By D.Arul Rajoo and Yong Soo Heong

BANGKOK, Feb 25 (Bernama) — Thai Prime Minister General Surayud
Chulanont says that he will retire from politics once his
military-installed interim government is able to hold general elections
in due course.

“I will take a rest. For me, I am not going to get involved in
politics,” he said when asked what were his plans once he retires as
the 33rd prime minister of Thailand.

A career military officer, Surayud, was born on Aug 28, 1943 in
Phetchaburi. A graduate of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, he
rose to become the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Army before he
retired in 2003. Towards the end of 2003, he was appointed a member of
the Privy Council of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Surayud became the prime minister on Oct 1 last year when former prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a bloodless coup on Sept 19,
2006.

“I received this job with a strong mandate from the people that I have
to be here to serve (and to attend to) the political and security
problems in Thailand. So after this, if they can have an elected
government from the people by the people, I think that’s it,” he said
in an interview with Bernama at his office here on Friday evening.
Asked whether he was confident that the elections would be held,” the
63- year-old Surayud replied, “Sure, I am confident.”

To a question whether the general elections would be held by October
this year, he said, “I cannot say at the moment. It still depends a lot
on the drafting committee like when it is able to provide the first
draft for a referendum on when we can set a timeframe for the
referendum. After the referendum, we will proceed with the general
elections.”

The referendum is to be called to approve the country’s new constitution after it had been drawn up by the drafting committee.

When Surayud took office last year, he was best known for his
declaration that he would focus on the country’s self-sufficiency more
than focusing on the Gross Domestic Product numbers and that he would
focus on the happiness of the people, more than the GDP.

Asked how the interim government has been performing since the coup, he
said it had been listening to comments and suggestions from all
sectors. “I believe in working together with the national legislative
body and political parties even though they are not at full
participation at the moment,” said Surayud, who has been credited for
having reforming and professionalising the Thai military.

He believed that the interim government would proceed according to the time-table that had been planned.

“As a government, if we can proceed with the planned time-table, I think that’s a success,” he added.

— BERNAMA

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