Ousted PM Samak to run for office again

Thailand's outgoing Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who was removed from his post by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday for hosting TV cooking shows, will be the ruling party's candidate when Parliament elects a new premier on Friday.


BANGKOK, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Thailand's Samak Sundaravej
accepted his party's nomination on Thursday to return as prime
minister, the official party spokesman said, resuming a
collision course with protesters hell-bent on stopping him.

"The party chief declared his determination at the meeting
to return to work for the country again," chief spokesman Kudeb
Saikrachang told reporters after Samak met officials at the
headquarters of his ruling People Power Party.

"Tomorrow, the PPP and other coalition parties will
re-elect Samak as the prime minister again," Kudeb said, two
days after a court removed him from office after finding him
guilty of a conflict of interest.

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), whose protesters
are occupying the seat of national government in Bangkok, said
they would not accept Samak, who also faced opposition from
within his own party ahead of Friday's parliamentary vote.

A spokesman for a PPP faction claiming to have 70 MPs said
they would abstain from the vote, saying Samak's return would
exacerbate weeks of political tension and damage the party.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that Samak,
accused by the PAD of being a puppet for ousted prime minister
Thaksin Shinawatra, broke the law in hosting cooking shows on
commercial television while in office.

"The main principle is that Samak, who violated the
constitution many times, should not become PM again," Somsak
Kosaisook, a PAD leader, said at Government House.

"No one in the PPP should become prime minister or a
minister in the government," he added, suggesting the PAD would
continue with its action that has paralysed government and
unsettled investors.

The court's ruling against 73-year-old Samak removed him
from office but did not ban him from returning.

The PPP, which has close to an outright majority in
parliament with 225 of the 470 seats, has called the chamber
into special session on Friday to vote for a new prime


The country is being run by a caretaker cabinet under
Somchai Wongsawat, a brother-in-law of Thaksin. The
controversial former prime minister is now in exile in London,
having skipped bail last month along with his wife to avoid
corruption charges.

Army commander Anupong Paochina urged Somchai to lift the
state of emergency Samak imposed last week after a man was
killed in street battles between pro- and anti-government

Anupong, who pointedly refused Samak's request for the army
to use force to evict the PAD from Government House, argued
that the emergency rule, which appears to be largely symbolic,
was damaging the country's image and economy.

The situation has become much calmer, although underlying
political tensions remain.

At least 2,000 police would be deployed to parliament on
Friday to prevent clashes between government supporters and
protesters, a senior officer told Reuters. Another 3,000 police
would be mobilised to man key government buildings.

Consumer confidence is low, falling in August to its lowest
level this year. Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee has said
this was one reason why the government's economic growth target
would be missed. It had forecast 5 to 6 percent for 2008.

The stock market turned lower in the afternoon after news
of Samak's nomination, ending down 1.33 percent. It has fallen
around 25 percent since the street protests began in late May.

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