Chaturon slams Abhisit proposal

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva's proposal for national reform is dictatorial, according to Chaturon Chaisaeng, a senior member of the governing Pheu Thai Party.

What Mr Abhisit proposed is what anti-government protesters, some academics and people who don't believe in elections have been calling for all along — to create a political vacuum so a "neutral" prime minister can step in, the caretaker education minister said in a TV interview shortly after Mr Abhisit outlined his proposal in detail on Saturday.

"The difference is the method. Mr Abhisit, who is a party to the conflict, changed his role to listening to the opinions of some groups. He then came up with this proposal as if he were a middleman when in fact he's part of the problem," said Mr Chaturon.

A key element of Mr Abhisit's plan is for the current caretaker government to step down so the Senate could appoint an interim administration to prepare for reforms, a referendum and an election.

"In terms of content, since the proposal is the same as what was floated earlier, anyone holding on to democratic principles — whoever insists that even if the constitution is not good, all should abide by it — will find it hard to swallow," said Mr Chaturon.

"I believe the proposal is also a cue for the court so that an upcoming ruling may come to that effect," he said, referring to a Constitutional Court case that many obesrvers believe will go against the Pheu Thai government.

"Besides, by pledging not to run in the election [so he can prove he does not benefit from the proposal], Mr Abhisit cleanses himself while getting what he wants — boycotting the election.

"It's the same story. He doesn't run because he wants [the election] to fail, because he doesn't have faith in it and doesn't believe the country should have one."

Mr Abhisit's proposal that a prime minister should come from outside the constitution is dictatorial and won't get any support from people who support democracy, Mr Chaturon said.

"I believe the [caretaker] prime minister will not accept it," he added.

Many of Mr Abhisit's ideas for reform are good, but only when they are realised after the election, he said.

But having the prime minister and the cabinet resign to create a vacuum is impossible.

"This can only be achieved if the court orders it," said Mr Chaturon.

"It's impossible to ask this government to take part in destroying democracy and bending democratic principles and the principle that sovereignty belongs to the people.

"Instead of having voters choose their own leader, the proposal seeks to appoint someone to rule them and we don't even know where that someone is coming from."

Asked what the solution for the country should be, Mr Chaturon said all sides needed to think how, after the election, they could get a government committed to reforms and discuss the reform process.

"Under such a scenario, the winning party is unlikely to fill all the cabinet seats with its people," he said. "Some outsiders with reform experience may be asked to join. A process may be laid down to listen to the opinions of the people and then a new election is called.

"Some of these may sound like what Mr Abhisit has just proposed. The difference is there is a democratic way of doing this. But what Mr Abhisit has proposed is dictatorship, pure and simple."

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