PDRC ally supports interim PM call

A group campaigning for political reform has thrown its support behind calls for the Senate to install an interim prime minister, insisting the constitution permits such a move.

The Reform Now Network (RNN), an ally of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), on Friday dismissed claims the country was in political deadlock and said the Senate still has the authority under Section 182 of the charter to appoint an interim premier.

Speaking at a seminar on political reform, RNN member Santi Sathippong said the possibility of installing an interim prime minister and government under Section 7 of the constitution was not a new issue, as the provision was also included in the 1997 charter.

The section states that in circumstances not covered by other sections of the constitution, action can be taken "in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as head of state".

Mr Santi insisted it was possible for the Senate to invoke Section 7 to install an unelected interim premier.

Senator Weerawit Khongsak said the Upper House now works for the sake of the public, who have been left with a non-functioning government which lacks the full authority to govern the country.

He pointed to the plight of rice farmers who have been left unpaid from the rice-pledging scheme due to the government's caretaker status.

He said it was crucial for the Senate to find a way out of the crisis, as the caretaker government had little authority to resolve the problems facing the country.

He was speaking at the same seminar.

For the sake of the nation, politicians should now take a step backward, Mr Weerawit said.

He also dismissed claims that the Senate had already agreed on a plan to end the political deadlock.

The 150 members of the Upper House each have their own opinions and need to discuss the nomination of an interim prime minister, he said.

Before the Senate would be able to endorse any nominations for interim premier, a Senate panel would need to be formed after the Senate commences its meeting session, he added.

The panel would be responsible for scrutinising the people nominated for the position, assessing mainly their "moral standards and qualifications", he said.

This process would take at least one month to complete, while the interim government will be given at most one year to complete its task of resolving the country's problems and reforming the political system, Mr Weerawit said.

"We're not rushing to get a new prime minister, but it's crucial for the country to have a government with the full authority to resolve problems," he said.

Plans for national reform should be drafted and made public by the interim government.

The public should then be given about three months to study the plans and offer feedback before a referendum is held to decide, the senator said.

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