Support for samak
By The Nation

Military chiefs, politicians rule out change of premier

The military says it's fully behind PM Samak Sundaravej, as tens of thousands of protesters surround Government House.

Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niumpradit says the military will not become involved in the current political crisis, pointing out that countries like South Korea and Japan have "moved way ahead" of Thailand because their soldiers stay clear of politics.

"I shouldn't make remarks on politics, as it will only cause confusion," he says. He does, however, say the PAD has a right to protest within the law. He hopes the demonstrations remain peaceful.

Boonsrang adds that the military will be deployed only by Cabinet order. "It doesn't mean things will become better if the military is deployed. The police can handle it. To deploy the military doesn't develop democracy. Leaders [of both sides] ought to be able to talk."

Army chief General Anupong Paochinda says the military is behind the PM and hopes Samak continues to lead. He says the Army will not interfere and there will be no troop movements, adding that there's no need for a state of emergency.

Former PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh believes Samak, an old political hand, will survive: "He won't give in easily." Chavalit, too, wants talks.

Meanwhile, coalition partners are standing firm, says chief government whip Samart Kaeomeechai. He says protests are part of democracy and there is no pressure for a change of leadership.

Chart Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa says that even if the House is dissolved, the PPP will win a subsequent election.

Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee says the economy is taking a battering due to the crisis and will get worse the longer it drags on.