The deadlock, the result of anti-government protests that began in
November, has largely crippled government, threatens to tip Thailand
into recession and has even raised fears of civil war.
Last week the Constitutional Court ousted Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra and nine of her cabinet ministers for abuse of power, but
her caretaker government has remained in office, clinging to hope
for a July 20 election which would probably see it returned to
The crisis is the latest phase in nearly 10 years of rivalry between
the royalist establishment and Yingluck's brother, former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed by the army in a 2006
With the military declining to get involved this time, the
anti-government side has called on the Senate to step in and force
what is left of Yingluck's administration to stand down.
The upper house met on Monday to try to draft a "road map" but came
to no conclusions. It met again on Tuesday.
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy
prime minister in a government run by the pro-establishment Democrat
Party, said the Senate should act quickly to appoint a new prime
"We will be monitoring the Senate's efforts closely," Suthep told
reporters in a building in the prime minister's office complex,
which the government vacated weeks ago.
Suthep has moved his supporters from a city park to an avenue
outside parliament to reinforce his call for the Senate to act.
Newly elected Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai appealed for
everyone to help end the crisis.
"We welcome all sides to come and discuss a way out," he told
reporters before the session. "We don't choose sides."
Yingluck dissolved the lower house, the House of Representatives, in
December for an election but the royalist opposition boycotted the
vote and their activists disrupted it. It was later declared void.
The anti-government protesters are backed by the establishment which
has long seen Thaksin as a threat. The former telecommunications
tycoon won huge support in the rural north and northeast with
populist policies despite authoritarian tendencies and accusations
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Thaksin lives in exile to avoid jail for a 2008 graft conviction but
exerts extensive influence on the government from abroad.
protesters want the remnants of Yingluck's administration replaced
with a "neutral" interim prime minister who they want to draft
reforms aimed at disabling Thaksin's political juggernaut, which has
won every election since 2001.
The government says its removal would be unconstitutional and that
it still has a mandate and is focusing on confirming the election
date. Its "red shirt" supporters have warned of violence if the
Senate throws the government out.
The government is due to meet the Election Commission on Wednesday
to decide on the best date for an election. Caretaker Prime Minister
Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan said on Monday he was hopeful the
election could be re-run soon.
Rival supporters are staging sit-in protests this week and, although
their main protest sites are far apart, fears of violence are
growing. Twenty-five people have been killed since this round of
The military, which has intervened frequently in politics in the
past, has remained aloof despite calls from some pro-establishment
forces for it to oust the pro-Thaksin government.
The military says it is up to politicians to resolve political
(Additional reporting by Apornraath Phoonphongphiphat and Juarawee
Kittisilpa; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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