Thai military rulers decide on interim PM

Statute gives them right to sack PM

Bangkok, September 28 :

Thailand’s military rulers have chosen an interim civilian prime minister for a provisional government set to replace the administration of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, an official said today. He, however, declined to name the person.

The military council has also given itself the authority to remove the prime minister and Cabinet members of the incoming government, according to a draft of a temporary constitution that will be unveiled this weekend, one of its drafters said.

Speaking to reporters, Navy chief Adm Satirapan Keyanon declined to say who the military council had appointed to be the interim prime minister.

Asked if the coupmakers had decided whom to appoint, he said: “I believe so,” but when pressed for a name, or even initials, he brushed them off with a laugh, saying “I cannot tell you. It’s a gentleman’s agreement.” It’s widely believed that former army commander Surayud Chulanont, a respected retired general and member of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s inner circle of advisers is the front-runner for the post. Another highly-touted possibility is former WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Meanwhile, legal experts criticised the draft text of the new constitution, which was obtained by local media, saying it showed that Thailand’s coup leaders have no intention of completely relinquishing power.

The coup leaders, who seized power September 19 in a bloodless coup that ousted Thaksin have said that their temporary constitution could be presented to the king for approval on Saturday. After the charter is approved, they have vowed to install a temporary prime minister.

A draft text of the constitution that appeared in Thai newspapers was confirmed by Meechai Ruchupan, a former Senate speaker who had a major role in writing the temporary charter. He was one of about a dozen people on a drafting committee selected by the military rulers.

Once the temporary constitution is in effect, the ruling council — which calls itself the Council for Democratic Reform — will be renamed the National Security Council and will advise the government on security matters, military leaders have said.

The draft text of the charter gives the National Security Council the right to call Cabinet meetings to “resolve administrative problems” and allows them to “remove the prime minister” and Cabinet members.

It empowers the NSC to select the speaker of the National Assembly and 100 of the 200-person drafting committee that will pen the permanent constitution.