Friday, January 11, 2008

'I'm still committed to PPP-led govt'


'I'm still committed to PPP-led govt'

Unfazed by People Power's red-card prospects, Chart Thai leader will formalise decision within a week

Published on January 6, 2008

Chart Thai Party leader Banharn Silapa-archa yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to join a coalition led by the People Power Party.

Banharn ruled out any drastic fluctuation in the number of House seats won by coalition partners because of red and yellow cards.

"I don't think there will be a problem. I expect the Election Commission to endorse the voting results in separate batches," he said in reference to 83 winning candidates whose results have been withheld pending

investigation into electoral fraud.

He said it was impossible to issue 65 red cards against the PPP, arguing that a worst-case projection might see about 20 yellow cards.

After factoring in the red and yellow cards, the PPP will maintain a commanding majority over the Democrat Party, because most of the anticipated disqualifications will be in the North and the Northeast, where the Democrats will not be strong in a revote, he said.

He predicted the outcome of the revote would boost the number of seats held by coalition partners Chart Thai, Puea Pandin, Matchima Thipataya and Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana.

He said he would formalise his party's decision on the coalition within a week.

In light of the passing of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, political activity has been suspended. It will resume next week, he said, saying he would meet then with Puea Pandin to seal the coalition deal.

In a related development, Puea Pandin spokesman Wachiramon Kunakasemtha-nawat dismissed allegations that party chairman Vatana Asavahame had tried to block the deal with the PPP.

"It is not true that Vatana pressured the party to back

out of the deal using his financial support," Wachiramon said.

He said his party's decision would be a consensus of three key figures, Vatana, leader Suwit Khunkitti and chief adviser Pracha Phromnok.

He said it would finalise its decision on the coalition alliance only after the election had been endorsed.

Political veteran Lalita Rerksamran said banned party executive Surakiart Sathirathai had had no involvement in the Puea Pandin's coalition decision.

Lalita said newly elected member of Parliament Suradet Yasawat had no cause to call Surakiart an obstacle to a coalition alliance.

Meanwhile PPP secretary-general Surapong Suebwonglee said the party was ready to rebut charges it acted as a nominee for the banned Thai Rak Thai. The Supreme Court will hear the charges on January 15.

"People Power has no link to the distribution of video discs featuring former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra," he said. He denied the party was a proxy for the former prime minister and his disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party.

He said his party's campaign messages focused on just two issues: economic development and the restoration of democratic rule.

He voiced confidence that Parliament could convene on January 22 as scheduled and said the party-led coalition remained on track.

He confirmed that a coalition between Pracharaj, Matchima Thipataya and Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana was a done deal. It is up to Chart Thai and Puea Pandin whether they join later, he said.

He said speculation that the party faced dissolution was tarnishing the country's reputation.

PPP legal adviser Sukhumpong Ngonkham anticipated no difficulties in proving the party was not a nominee.

"People Power leader Samak Sundaravej has never said he was a Thaksin proxy, and the party can prove his remarks may have been misconstrued," he said.

"I am certain about winning," he said, adding that the party would accept the court's ruling.

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