Thai opposition urges rejection of pro-junta coalition

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army general, seized power in 2014, the second military coup in a decade. (AP)
Updated 29 May 2019

Thai opposition urges rejection of pro-junta coalition

  • Negotiations are going on two months after the election
  • In order to govern, a majority in the House of Representatives would be necessary

BANGKOK: Thailand’s main opposition Pheu Thai party on Wednesday urged other parties that contested a March election to reject a coalition offer by a pro-army party seeking to keep the ruling junta chief as prime minister.
The appeal came as pro-junta Palang Pracharat’s bid to cement a coalition government faltered when at least two of its presumed allies — the pro-establishment Democrat Party and Chart Thai Pattana — expressed new reservations and conditions.
Negotiations are going on two months after the election, held nearly five years after the then-army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power from a Pheu Thai government in 2014, the second military coup in a decade.
Pheu Thai, which leads the seven-party Democratic Front alliance that has accused the junta of manipulating the election, seized on the two parties’ reluctance and urged unity against military dominance of government.
“It is not too late for any party to change their mind,” said Pheu Thai’s secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai.
No one party won a majority in the House of Representatives in the election, but Palang Pracharat has an advantage under junta-written electoral rules that require the 250-seat upper house Senate, appointed by the junta, to vote along with the 500-seat lower house for prime minister.
That effectively gives Palang Pracharat a 250-seat advantage in the race to the 376 votes — a majority of members of both houses of parliament — it needs for its bid to ensure Prayuth stays on as prime minister.
But in order to govern, a majority in the House of Representatives would be necessary.
Palang Pracharat would need to ally with almost all the non-aligned parties to get the 251 seats it needs in the lower house.
The Democrats — bitter opponents of Pheu Thai in the past — have said that amending the post-coup constitution would be a condition for joining any Palang Pracharat government, Democrat spokesman Rames Rattanachaweng said late on Tuesday.
And Chart Thai Pattana member Varawut Silpa-archa also said that Palang Pracharat has not yet agreed to his party’s unspecified conditions.
“What we proposed has not been answered,” Varawut said, adding, “If we are unable to join the Palang Pracharat coalition then we are ready to perform our legislative duty in parliament.”
Palang Pracharat’s leader Uttama Savanayana told reporters on Wednesday that his party was willing to wait for agreement.
“We are confident that we can still form a government but at this time we are talking about policies with other political parties as well as how to best use our personnel. At the end I believe a deal can be reached.”


Trump to issue sanctions, stop trade deal, increase tariffs on Turkey

Updated 14 October 2019

Trump to issue sanctions, stop trade deal, increase tariffs on Turkey

  • President vowed to "destroy" the Turkish economy
  • Critics say Trump's decision gave Turkey a green light to go against the Kurds

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday said that in response to Turkey's incursion into Syria he will soon issue an executive order authorizing sanctions against current and former Turkish officials, stop negotiations with Turkey on a $100 billion trade deal, and boost tariffs on Turkish steel to 50 percent.

In a statement in which he vowed to swiftly destroy the Turkish economy if it continues down "this dangerous and destructive path," Trump also said that U.S. troops coming out of Syria will redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation.

Before the invasion, Trump ordered a couple dozen US troops out of harm's way.

Critics say Trump's decision gave Turkey a green light to go against the Kurds, who had helped the US battle against Daesh militants.

More to follow...