13 Sep 2008

Samak out of Thailand PM vote

8:12 am on 13 September 2008

The governing party in Thailand has withdrawn the nomination of Samak Sundaravej as its candidate for prime minister.

The People Power Party had initially backed Mr Samak, who was stripped of office earlier this week.

But it became clear that coalition partners and some ruling party lawmakers opposed the decision, and a planned vote to re-elect him could not go ahead.

His withdrawal was cheered by supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy who occupied the prime minister's offices more than two weeks ago in a bid to unseat him.

Thailand's Constitutional Court sacked him from the premiership on Tuesday, finding him guilty of conflict of interest for hosting television cooking shows while in office.

While the ruling removed Mr Samak, 73, it did not ban him from making a comeback and this is what he indicated he would seek to do in a parliamentary vote on Friday.

Then came news that parliament had postponed the vote after several factions of the ruling People Power Party withdrew their backing, fearing his re-nomination would only escalate political tensions.

There was no immediate word on who the party would now back for prime minister when the chamber finally votes on Wednesday.

The protesters had vowed to continue their occupation if Mr Samak's party, the biggest in the six-party ruling coalition, nominated one of its own for prime minister.