Thai PM tells senators he won`t resign

Thailand`s acting prime minister insisted on Monday that his government will not resign, resisting pressure from a group of senators who are seeking ways to settle the country`s political crisis, and from anti- government protesters who are demanding an appointed prime minister.

PTI| Last Updated: May 19, 2014, 21:12 PM IST

Bangkok: Thailand`s acting prime minister insisted on Monday that his government will not resign, resisting pressure from a group of senators who are seeking ways to settle the country`s political crisis, and from anti- government protesters who are demanding an appointed prime minister.

The deadlock in Southeast Asia`s second-largest economy has been worsening since former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house in December and a court ousted her and nine Cabinet ministers earlier this month for abuse of power.

A group of about 70 senators, most of whom are seen as siding with the anti-government protesters, proposed a framework on Friday that calls for a government with full power to conduct political reforms.

Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri met with two representatives of the Senate in an undisclosed location today to avoid disruption from the protesters.

In a statement following the meeting, Niwattumrong said the Cabinet cannot resign because "it will be negligence of duty and against the constitution," and insisted he "can carry out duties and has full authority" as prime minister.

The Cabinet has operated in a caretaker capacity with limited power since Yingluck dissolved the lower house in December in a failed bid to ease the political crisis. A new government cannot normally be named until there are elections, which anti-government demonstrators have vowed to block unless political reforms occur first.

"After being informed of the government`s clear stance like this, the Senate will move on to other plans. We have backup plans that can be implemented within this week," Sen. Wanchai Sornsiri, the spokesman of the Senate`s coordinating panel, told reporters, without elaborating about the plans. "Had the government resigned, as in the initial plan, it would have been easier."

The Senate, the only functioning legislative body in the country, was seen as the last resort of the anti-government protesters, who are calling for an interim, unelected prime minister to be chosen.

Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court removed Yingluck for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters said her removal is not enough because she was replaced by an acting prime minister from the ruling party, Niwattumrong.