Six-party coalition government unveiled in Thailand

Updated: 2008-01-19 19:18

Bangkok -- Six political parties of Thailand, led by the People Power Party (PPP), which grabbed most MP seats in the December 23 general election, announced on Saturday at a joint press conference to form a coalition government.

The six-party coalition will garner over 300 seats in the 480- seat House of Representatives, which is expected to convene its first session on Monday, January 21.

The formation of the coalition will leave the Democrat Party, which won 165 MP seats, as the sole opposition party in the House.

PPP's leader Samak Sundaravej, along with representatives from the other five parties -- Chart Thai (Thai Nation) Party, Puea Pandin (For the motherland) Party, Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana (Thais United National Development) Party, Matchima Thipataya ( Neutral Democratic) Party and Pracharaj (Royal People) Party, made the announcement at the press conference at a Bangkok Hotel on Saturday afternoon.

Samak said that the six-party coalition, with a total of 315 MP seats in the 480-member House of Representatives, will be able to form a new government.

When asked if he would become Thailand's new prime minister as he vowed to be during election campaign, Samak said that the press conference was only for announcing the coalition, not for discussing the candidate of the new prime minister.

The announcement came one day after the Supreme Court cleared one big hurdle for the formation of a coalition government by dismissing legal attempts to nullify the voting results of the general election and the legitimacy of the PPP's election victory.

The Court on Friday ruled against the petition by New Aspiration Party spokesman Sarawut Thongpen that sought to nullify the outcome of the advance and absentee voting on December 15 and 16, citing that the advance voting was valid and that the Election Commission (EC) was properly authorized to organize the two-day voting.

It also threw out lawsuits brought by former Democrat Party MP candidate Chaiwat Sinsuwong, who had also questioned the fairness of the advance voting results, and asked the court to rule if the PPP is a proxy for the former ruling party Thai Rak Thai party (TRT) and the PPP leader Samak is a nominee for the TRT founder, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Many former TRT members joined the PPP, formerly a fringe party, and its new leader Samak openly voiced his support for the ousted premier Thaksin.

According to the PPP, the House will choose a House Speaker next Tuesday and a Prime minister next Friday. After that the coalition will then choose Cabinet members and address new government policy to the House.

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