Thai protesters to 'appoint new government'
BANGKOK - Agence France-Presse
Anti-government supporters celebrate after hearing that the Constitutional Court dismissed Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office, as protesters rally in a march in Bangkok on April 7. AFP PhotoThai protesters who have massed on Bangkok's streets for six months said May 8 they would appoint a new government, following the removal of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra by a court.
The announcement comes as the ailing ruling party seeks to bolster its authority after Yingluck's dismissal.
Observers warned the move would likely enrage pro-government supporters, risking further violence as the country lurches deeper into a political crisis.
"Tomorrow (Friday) we will take steps towards appointing a new government," protest spokesman Akanat Promphan told AFP, adding the new prime minister named after the court ruling lacked legitimacy.
"After the Constitutional Court's decision yesterday we decided to move up our schedule.... the government has lost all legitimacy and any claim it has to govern the country." It was not immediately clear what legal basis their vow draws on, but the Thai constitution has an article which may enable the appointment of a new executive body by the Senate.
Anti-government protest leaders have vowed a "final fight" on May 9, without giving details of their plans.
Their pledge comes a day after the Constitutional Court removed Yingluck from office for abusing her power in the 2011 transfer of a security official.
The ruling Puea Thai party accused the court of a "conspiracy" against the administration, many of whose ministers are loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra - Yingluck's billionaire brother and a former prime minister ousted in a military coup.
Thaksin is adored by the rural, poor northern portion of the country for his populist policies, but reviled by the Bangkok-based establishment and southern royalists.
The appointment of a new premier by the anti-government group "is the red line not to be crossed," said Thailand-based author and academic David Streckfuss.
"The Red Shirts will rise en masse," he said referring to Shinawatra supporters who are due to hold a mass rally on Saturday in a Bangkok suburb.
Puea Thai swiftly appointed a deputy premier - Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan - as Yingluck's replacement.
An anti-graft authority may rule on May against Yingluck and a former minister in a case over a costly rice subsidy scheme - that could lead to a five-year ban from politics.
Observers say the anti-government movement is also banking on legal rulings to chisel away at the new administration.
They have been camped on Bangkok's streets for six months in a bid to topple Yingluck and rid the country of the influence of her billionaire brother Thaksin. At least 25 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in political violence since they flooded Bangkok's streets and there are fears of wider clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters as the crisis intensifies.
The kingdom has been bitterly split since 2006 when an army coup deposed Thaksin. He now lives overseas to avoid jail for corruption convictions, that he is were politically motivated.
Shinawatra-led or linked governments have won every election since 2001. On May 7 Yingluck became the third premier of a Thaksin-aligned government to be forced from office by the courts, who critics say support the Thai elite.