Monday, February 20, 2006

Thaksin calls 'extraordinary' joint session of parliament to answer allegations

PM scurries to restore trust in joint session

The government will convene an extraordinary session of Parliament in response to the threat from veteran politician Chamlong Srimuang to bring a massive group of supporters to the next anti-Thaksin rally.

Government Spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said yesterday the Cabinet agreed during a two-hour meeting at the residence of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that it would ask the Parliament’s president to convene a special joint session of the two chambers.

The spokesman said the government would use the session to listen to the nation’s problems and address the crisis that has besieged the administration.

Surapong said Thaksin held

a special Cabinet meeting last night to discuss the political situation.

“The Cabinet discussed the current situation as the government is under attack, causing inaccurate reports and misunderstanding among the public,” Surapong said.

“Some news has been distorted, so the Cabinet resolved to hold a special meeting.”

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the public was being misled and the special session could find measures to re-establish trust with the electorate.

He said the Cabinet agreed that a special parliamentary session, to be held early next month, would be the solution.

Wissanu said the government had held special sessions to discuss the situation in the restive South.

A source at the meeting said the prime minister proposed holding the extraordinary session and shared his interpretation of the breakdown in his relationship with Chamlong.

The source said that Thaksin said Chamlong had always seen the premier as his inferior. In the past, Chamlong had asked for financial support many times. “Sometimes Thaksin refused and that might be the reason why Chamlong got angry,” they said.

The session is being called under Section 213 of the Constitution, which says a prime minister can call such a debate during a crisis, when comments from both chambers are required.

A source said yesterday’s announcement by Chamlong to join the anti-Thaksin movement had increased pressure on the prime minister.

Thaksin hoped the offer of a special session would stifle the growth of the movement against him, the source said.

All Cabinet members attended the meeting at Thaksin’s house, except Tourism and Sports Minister Pracha Maleenont.

Piyanart Srivalo

The Nation