Interim govt to be given a free hand
Coup leaders hint Surayud at top of shortlist for PM
The Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) yesterday vowed to give the interim government a free rein and hinted at the profile of the prime minister - an honest man of stature, possibly a retired general, to forge social unity.
"Honesty should come first, followed by the charisma to heal social divisions," CDRM leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said at a press conference to mark one week since the military coup.
Sonthi was bombarded with questions relating to the search for the civilian prime minister after top contenders appeared to have got cold feet about the challenges facing the interim government.
He said the CDRM remained on track to meet the two-week deadline for handing over power to an interim government.
The temporary charter was ready for promulgation this weekend and the prime minister should be named around the same time - or no later than next Thursday, he said.
"The CDRM will seek royal endorsement for the temporary charter as well as the appointment of the prime minister," he said.
Following the royal command on the appointment, the prime minister will have complete freedom to name Cabinet members for up to 35 ministerial portfolios.
Sonthi said the CDRM would pick the interim leader based on the majority vote of its six members.
He refused to mention any names of contenders for the job, saying he was mindful of the feelings of those who might be precluded.
The short-listed contenders include Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Chanchai Likhitjittha, president of the Supreme Court and Akarathorn Chularat, president of the Supreme Administrative Court.
The name of privy councillor General Surayud Chulanont emerged as a favourite after negotiations with other contenders reportedly stalled.
The CDRM leader did not rule out Surayud's chance for the job, saying he is now a civilian after retiring from the military service.
He said the CDRM would be taking the security advisory role to be called the Council of Security following the installation of the interim government. Its six members would become security councillors, he added.
He said the CDRM still had some concerns about the political situation although it had ruled out the possibility of a counter coup.
Martial law would be lifted as soon as the CDRM deemed it appropriate, he said. In regard to the future of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, he could decide for himself when to end his self-imposed exile in London, he said.
The graft probes involving Thaksin and other deposed ministers would proceed under due process and the CDRM would not interfere, he said.
The CDRM had assigned its secretary general Winai Phattiyakul to liase with Thaksin, he said.
Commenting on the fate of four ousted ministers detained by the CDRM, he said they would be released soon.