Thaksin wants poll to go ahead: Surapong
Surapong Suebwonglee yesterday tried to distance his Thai Rak Thai Party from the anti-coup protests and defended ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra as wanting to see the general election take place rather than derail it.
"If my party was behind the anti-coup activities, I believe the protests would be on a much larger scale: just look at the mass rallies we organised ahead of last year's general election," said Surapong, a key party member.
The organisers of PTV's demonstrations, the nucleus of the anti-coup movements, have resigned their party memberships, he said.
Thaksin agrees with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's road map to restore democratic rule, he said.
"I think Thaksin has made himself very clear that he does not encourage any party members to get involved with anti-coup activities," he said, admitting that he has not had any direct contact with the former party leader lately.
Surapong said the coup-makers should concentrate on fixing the country's problems instead of wasting time plotting another coup.
He also opposes the plan by the People's Alliance for Democracy, a key anti-Thaksin coalition, to pressure Surayud into quitting.
"The key issue is to call the general election as soon as possible, otherwise the country will regress," he said.
The party is sure to win its election-fraud case, he said. A guilty verdict by the Constitution Tribunal on May 30 could mean the end of the party.
Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond confirmed that election day would be December 16 or 23.
"This is an auspicious marked by His Majesty the King's 80th birthday, a good rallying point for awareness of righteousness to deter vote-buying," he said.
The campaign for clean and fair polls may lose momentum if the general election is delayed till next year, he said.
It would be even better, he said, if the drafting of the new constitution and the referendum on it finish ahead of schedule and the election can take place even earlier.
The EC is reviewing a plan to transport voters to balloting stations free.
To forestall anti-coup campaigners, the Interior Ministry has instructed all governors to beef up security in their provinces for Songkran and beyond.
The CNS's General Sondhi Boonyaratglin yesterday insisted that he would not become premier if PM Surayud Chulanont resigned as critics forecast.
"I see no reason for me to become prime minister," he said.
Sondhi also said he would take a close look at all political movements after Songkran and find out who was behind them.
Sondhi said he would leave any Cabinet reshuffle to the prime minister.