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Ousted Thai Leader Accepts Prime Minister Nomination


Thailand faces more political uncertainty after the People's Power Party re-nominated Samak Sundaravej to serve as prime minister just days after a court ordered him to step aside. As Ron Corben reports from Bangkok, political analysts say the move will increase the anger of demonstrators who want Mr. Samak and the PPP out of power.

A People's Power Party spokesman said Thursday a majority of its members backed Samak Sundaravej as prime minister.

On Tuesday, a constitutional court ruled that Mr. Samak must step down as prime minister because he had violated the national charter by hosting a television cooking show while in office.

The ruling, however, did not block his party from re-electing him prime minister.

Parliament is to vote on the nomination Friday.

The renomination could enrage anti-government protestors who demand he resign. Some political analysts and the business community also oppose Mr. Samak's reappointment, fearing it could lead to violence or economic damage.

"Samak is a bad idea," said Sunai Pasuk,a representative in Thailand for Human Rights Watch. "There are competent people inside the party - there are other senior politicians who could have been nominated."

The PPP, which came to office after elections last December, leads a six-party coalition government.

The coalition members pledge to stand by the PPP, despite weeks of anti-government protests, which have brought much of the country's administration to a standstill.

The opposition, led the People's Alliance for Democracy, accuse Mr. Samak and the PPP of acting for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup two years ago. His critics consider him corrupt and authoritarian.

Mr. Thaksin fled to Britain in August to avoid trial on corruption charges. But Thai news media reported extensively Thursday that Mr. Thaksin had told PPP leaders he wanted Mr. Samak to remain in office.

Sunai says if that is true, it would indicate that Mr. Thaksin is challenging the courts.

"I could only guess Thaksin might have felt that he and his party have been hard done by, by the judiciary so this is moment of defiance," added Sunai.

Also Thursday, Thailand's army chief called on the government to revoke the state of emergency that was imposed last week after clashes between pro-government and anti-government protestors.

Opinion polls show a majority of voters favor new elections to end the political deadlock.

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