Surapong prepared to be caretaker PM

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said on Tuesday he and the other caretaker deputy prime ministers are all ready to take over as caretaker prime minister if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is forced to step aside.

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Ms Yingluck, in her capacity as chairwoman of the National Rice Policy Committee, has been charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) with being negligent in her duty in failing to stop the rice-pledging scheme while knowing it was plagued with huge losses and corruption.

If the NACC finds there is sufficient evidence to indict her, Ms Yingluck would have to leave office.

Mr Surapong, who is also caretaker foreign minister, said if this happens he, as the caretaker first deputy prime minister, and the six other caretaker deputy prime ministers, were all ready to take over as caretaker prime minister until a new cabinet has been sworn in.

He said the government would not send a list of "neutral" persons to mediate talks with the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), as requested by six independent organisations.

Since PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban had already refused to sot, the government would do the same, Mr Surapong said.

He said it would be better for the six organisations to go back to concentrating on their duties, particularly the Election Commission's Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, who he said had obviously showed his desire to see the Feb 2 election nullified.

Mr Surapong said he doubted the voters would agree if the Feb 2 election was declared invalid.

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