Pro-Thaksin party inches closer to forming government

ReutersUK

Fri 28 Dec 2007, 11:22 GMT

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The political party backing ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra responded positively on Friday to pre-conditions laid down by two smaller parties to form a coalition government.

But the People Power Party (PPP), which won 233 of 480 parliamentary seats in Sunday’s election, stopped short of formal acceptance of the terms, saying more negotiations were needed.

The PPP said that even if it leads a coalition government, it had no plans to interfere in criminal proceedings launched against Thaksin by the generals who removed him in a 2006 coup.

Thaksin, in exile since he lost power in a putsch, has been issued with an arrest warrant relating to a major land deal his wife made with a central bank unit while he was in power.

“PPP believes no one and no political party should interfere with any stage of the judicial process,” the party said in a statement. “No Thai is above the law.”

Chart Thai (Thai Nation) and Peua Pandin (Motherland) parties asked PPP on Thursday to let the judicial process run its course once Thaksin returns to Thailand to face charges.

PPP Secretary-General Surapong Suebwonglee told reporters on Friday his party would need to hold talks with Chart Thai and Peua Pandin about forming a coalition.

The PPP’s statement acknowledged another condition of the two potential partners that requested Thaksin’s supporters to stop attacking Prem Tinsulanonda, a highly influential former prime minister and right-hand man to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Thaksin camp accuses Prem, officially head of the king’s Privy Council, of masterminding the coup, an allegation he denies.

“All political parties must respect the Privy Council, not only General Prem Tinsulanonda but all its members,” the statement said.

But the PPP delivered its own veiled swipe at Prem, saying that “every Privy Council member is in a position above politics and he must be strictly neutral politically.”

The pro-Thaksin party also said it had no intention to retaliate against anti-corruption officials appointed by the coup leaders to go after Thaksin.

“Any scrapping of the Anti-Corruption Committee does not mean all its initiated cases will be closed. They will proceed through the normal judicial process to their finalities,” it said.

(Reporting by Vithoon Amorn, editing by Ed Cropley)

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