August 31, 2008

Thai PM Vows Not to Resign, Holds Session

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej says he won't resign despite widespread street protests calling for his ouster.

Sundaravej was set to convene a special session of Parliament Sunday, one day after receiving a crucial vote of confidence from members of his six-party governing coalition even as protesters occupied Government House for a fifth day, the Bangkok Post reported.

The coalition parties said Sunday's extraordinary joint parliamentary session would hopefully find a solution to a political crisis that has deadlocked the government, Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee told the newspaper.

"Government House has been seized, but it does not mean that the administrative power is seized, too," he said.

He said backing Samak as prime minister would ultimately keep the government functioning. Protesters, however, contend Samak's seven-month-old government is clearing the way for a return of unpopular former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"I will never resign in response to these threats," Samak told supporters Saturday. "I came to this job under a legal mandate. I will only go if the law does not allow me to stay and not simply because someone issues threats and puts pressure on me."