- Title: THAILAND: Thai PM vows to fight on despite court threat
- Date: 8th September 2008
- Summary: (BN11) UDON THANI PROVINCE, THAILAND (SEPTEMBER 8, 2008) (REUTERS) GOVERNMENT SUPPORTERS AT RALLY GOVERNMENT MEMBERS AND MINISTERS ON STAGE CROWD OF SUPPORTERS SITTING THAI PRIME MINISTER SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ ARRIVING AT GOVERNMENT RALLY SUPPORTERS CLAPPING WRITTEN PLACARD SUPPORTING GOVERNMENT READING 'NO DISSOLUTION, NO QUITTING, SAMAK FIGHT ON' SAMAK, PEOPLE POWER PARTY MEMBERS, AND MINISTERS ON STAGE SUPPORTERS LISTENING TO SAMAK SPEECH (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) THAI PRIME MINISTER SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ SAYING: "I will never give up, I have to save our democratic system." SUPPORTERS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) THAI PRIME MINISTER SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ SAYING: "This government has never done anything wrong. We've never done anything dirty. I challenge you to check us." SUPPORTERS CLAPPING SUPPORTERS CHEERING WITH PLACARDS SAMAK RECEVING FLOWERS FROM SUPPORTERS
- Embargoed: 23rd September 2008 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA1A3FL4EILZM90B9315O3GVKH5
- Story Text: Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej vowed on Monday not to resign or dissolve parliament ahead of a court ruling that could force him from power in less than 24 hours.
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej vowed on Monday (September 8) not to resign or dissolve parliament ahead of a court ruling that could force him from power in less than 24 hours.
"I will never give up, I have to save our democratic system,"
the 73-year-old told thousands of cheering supporters in the northeastern town of Udon Thani, stronghold of his ruling People Power Party (PPP).
"This government has never done nothing wrong," Samak added.
Despite his defiance, it could be one of his last speeches as leader.
Thailand's Constitutional Court will rule at 2 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Tuesday whether Samak broke the law by hosting television cooking shows while in office. If found guilty of conflict of interest, he will have to step down along with his cabinet, satisfying the demands of protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), barricaded inside his official compound for the past two weeks demanding he quit.
Senior figures inside the seven-month-old administration are braced for the worst.
The speed with which the court processed the cooking show case surprised insiders and analysts, although speculation has been mounting about the courts finding a short-term solution to the stalemate over the PAD's occupation of Government House.
The tension spilt over into bloodshed last week when a man was killed in a street battle between pro- and anti-government groups, triggering the declaration of a state of emergency that the highly politicised army chose to ignore.
A ruling against Samak could lift Thai shares, traders said. The main index rose 3.08 percent on Monday, but still lagged behind other Asian markets.
The constitution bans the prime minister and cabinet ministers from working for profit-oriented private entities.
The case stems from a complaint made by senators on May 25, the day the PAD launched its street campaign against Samak.
Whatever its outcome, the ruling is unlikely to resolve the deep political divisions that have riven Thailand for the past three years. Some analysts say he may even be able to return as prime minister.
One of his ministers, Chaiya Sasomsap, did just that, standing down as health minister after the court disqualified him on account of his wife's shareholdings, before returning to the cabinet weeks later as commerce minister.
Two years after its removal of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup, the army has insisted it will not intervene, but senior officers acknowledge the political crisis has reached a stalemate.
If the deadlock continues, or more people are hurt or killed, it could also trigger a move by revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has stepped into disputes in the past.
In 2006, when Thaksin was facing a prolonged campaign by the PAD, the king summoned the country's top judges to tell them to resolve the political "mess" after the opposition boycotted a general election, rendering the result void.
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