Court says PM must resign
(BangkokPost.com) - The Constitution Court Tuesday found Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej guilty of violating the constitution by hosting two cooking shows on commercial television.
The nine judges voted unanimously that Mr Samak must step down.
"The defendant has violated Article 267 of the constitution, and his position as prime minister has ended," the head of the nine-judge panel, Chat Chonlaworn, said.
Mr Samak was found to have violated the Article 267 of the charter by taking money from a production firm, Face Media, for hosting the Chim Pai Bon Pai (Tasting and Grumblimg) and Yok Khayong Hok Mong Chao (All Set at 6am) cooking programmes.
They also ruled that cabinet ministers remain as a caretaker administration for 30 days until the parliament elects a new prime minister.
The first deputy prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, will be caretaker prime minister
The charter prohibits a premier from hosting any position in a partnership, company or an organisation carrying out business with a view to sharing profits or income, or being an employee of any person.
Supporters of anti-government group People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have seized the Government House, reportedly screamed with happiness after hearing the verdict.
Deputy leader of People Power party (PPP) Karn Thiankaew said after the verdict that PPP respects the ruling.
Earlier Tuesday, PPP spokesman Kudep Saikrachang said party members will vote Mr Samak back in as leader of the government.
PPP MP Witthaya Buranasiri, a government whip, said party members will ask coalition parties to re-elect Mr Samak.
"Executive members of the PPP will propose that leaders of coalition partners support Mr Samak to remain as prime minister, although some have proposed that Chart Thai party leader Banharn Silpa-archa assume the post," Mr Witthaya said.
He reportedly travelled to the parliament after the ruling was given to set the date for selecting the new prime minister with House Speaker Chai Chidchob to prevent a political vacuum.
But shortly before the ruling was handed down, Chart Thai party leader Banharn Silpa-archa told reporters that he would not accept premiership because he could not stand high political pressure.
"It's better that I stay on like this. I want to live a long life," he said.
Bangkok Post Sept. 9, 2008