Abhisit refutes reports of resignation

Suthep vows to step down if seats are lost

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is denying that he told a foreign news agency that he would quit if his party wins less than 170 seats in the election.

However, upon learning of the Reuters report about Mr Abhisit’s remarks yesterday, party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban also promised to quit if the party wins fewer than 170 House seats on July 3.

“People look down on the Democrat Party, asking how many seats it will obtain. At that time, I had to be patient. When the leader [Mr Abhisit] made his remarks, then I was relieved and could say it clearly,” Mr Suthep said.

“Of course, if we get those votes, it will mean we’ve been overwhelmingly defeated. If the nation is handed to those who torched the country, we are supposed to take responsibility by resigning as party executives. If we’re so heavily defeated, then we should go home,” he added.

Mr Abhisit yesterday attempted to clarify yesterday his remarks to the news agency. He said he would take responsibility only if the party turned in a poorer performance than last time and won fewer seats than other political parties.

“If the party wins 160 seats, less than in the last election at 170 but it is the highest number [among all the parties] in this election, that does not mean I have to resign,” Mr Abhisit said.

Meanwhile, Apirak Kosayodhin, the Democrat Party’s Bangkok vote campaign director, said it was too early to comment on the issue.

In response to opinion polls which indicate that the Democrat Party is trailing Pheu Thai, Mr Apirak said the popularity of his party was increasing and had not peaked yet. He hopes its popularity will peak on election day.

He also said the Democrats were intensifying their campaign speeches to build up the party’s popularity.

Mr Apirak declined to answer when reporters asked who would succeed Mr Abhisit as Democrat leader if the party won fewer than 170 seats.

Yesterday, Mr Abhisit, Mr Apirak and key Democrat figure Ong-art Klampaibul campaigned in Nong Khaem and Thawi Watthana districts that make up Constituency 29 of Bangkok.

The Democrats are fielding Ekanat Phromphan, an adopted son of Mr Suthep, in the constituency.

The delegation received a warm welcome from local people but as Mr Abhisit’s vehicle passed by, a lone red shirt protester showed up on a crimson motorcycle, waving the red flag of the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) movement .

Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai and Democrat executive Therdpong Chaiyanand campaigned in Muang Lampang district which is Constituency 1 of Lampang province for their candidate Khanittha Nithakasem yesterday.

The delegation was also greeted warmly by the public.

However, like Mr Abhisit’s group, Mr Chuan’s delegation faced two protesters who raised a piece of placard referring to “91 dead bodies” message, in reference to pro-Thaksin demonstrators’ accusation about killings during last year’s crackdowns on red shirt protesters.

One of the men who wore a red UDD shirt also raised aloft pictures of Yingluck Shinawatra, the No.1 list candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, and the Pheu Thai MP candidate for Constituency 1 for Mr Chuan’s delegation to see.

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