Thai PM vows to stay on until election in the wake of cabinet shake   2007-10-02 22:47:54

    BANGKOK, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) — After a string of ministers’ resignations struck his cabinet, Thailand’s Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont Tuesday pledged to stay on as the interim government leader to see to it that the general election scheduled on Dec. 23is held.

    In a pre-recorded statement aired on national TV pool Tuesday evening, the Thai premier said he had completed the cabinet reshuffle list and submitted it for royal endorsement.

    He said that with only a few months remaining for the interim government to operate before the December election is held, he would invite few outsiders to fill in cabinet vacancies following the resignations of five ministers, who were found by the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) to have owned share holdings of more than five percent in companies, a breach of the abolished 2000 anti-graft laws.

    Surayud said he could not reveal the names of the cabinet candidates at the moment until they have been officially endorsed by the royal command.

    It was reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras was assigned to take care of the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Ministry after the former ICT Minister Sithichai Pokaiudom resigned.

    The other four ministers who resigned over the shareholding controversy are same Natural Resources and Environment Minister Kasem Sanidwong na Ayudhaya, Deputy Foreign Minister Sawanit Kongsiri, Interior Minister Aree Wongsearaya and Deputy Commerce Minister Oranuj Osatananda.

    Government Spokesman Yongyuth Maiyalarp on Tuesday also announced resignation as he realized he owned shares of more than five percent in a company, and he did so to avoid bringing future trouble to the government.

    The one “outsider” to join the Surayud cabinet was confirmed as retired Army-Commander-in-Chief and resigned Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin.

    Earlier Tuesday the Royal Gazette announced the appointment of General Sonthi, who led the Sept. 19 coup last year to oust then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of national security affairs, after the King signed the royal command on Monday.

    Sonthi retired officially as army chief on Sunday and resigned on Monday as CNS chairman to pave way for his new job.

    In the 10-minute speech, Surayud also defended his ministers’ acts, saying that the cabinet members had been invited to work for the country under special circumstances after the country went through a military coup and had not been demanded to declare their assets when appointed.

    He explained the shareholding limit was not binding to the interim government members, but he appreciated their resignations as they did so to show responsibility.

    Surayud said that after the Royal Gazette has officially announced the date of the election, tentatively set on Dec. 23, his government would stop implementing any key policies.

    In response to speculations that the resignations will pressure him to quit the premier post, Surayud pledged to hold on to his post as prime minister until the general election is held to avoid any interruption to the economic, political and social progress in the country,

    There reportedly was a campaign to topple the Surayud government inside National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

    A group of about 30 NLA members, led by Prasong Soonsiri, have launched a signature campaign to censure Surayud as the group claimed the a number of ministers in the interim government had conflicts of interest, news network The Nation reported.

    Surayud said his government would try every effort to assist the Election Commission to organize a fair and transparent general election to produce an elected government.

    Surayud was installed last October by CNS as prime minister of the interim government after the Sept. 19 coup. 


Thai PM vows to stay on until election in the wake of cabinet shake



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