BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand’s stunned government came under pressure today to call an early election in the wake of the corruption verdict against powerful former interior minister Sanan Kanchornprasart. Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of Sanan’s ruling Democrat Party should quit as prime minister and call new elections to take responsibility for Sanan’s actions, said Adisorn Piangket, an opposition MP. “The Democrats cannot dismiss the matter as a personal issue. The case has a direct bearing on the main coalition party and government itself,” he said. Chuan rejected calls for his party to resign and dissolve parliament to take responsibility for Sanan. “Every minister submits his own assets and liabilities statement. Nobody knows the other’s statement. It’s a private matter [that does not necessarily reflect on the party],” the prime minister said. “Adisorn has been asking me to resign all of his life,” and these dissolution calls are nothing new, Chuan said. The Democrats will call an executive meeting next Tuesday to set the date for a party meeting to name a new secretary-general. Officials here admit privately that institutionalized and informal corruption is a fact of life which taints almost every sector of Thai society, from business to the police. Political commentators are hailing the Sanan case as a milestone in the struggle to cleanse Thai politics after decades of cronyism and shady dealing.
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