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Thai PM Fried For Stints On Cooking Show

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej attends a mobile Cabinet meeting in Udon Thani province on Tuesday. Samak resigned after a court ruling that he had violated the constitution.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul
/
AFP/Getty Images
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej attends a mobile Cabinet meeting in Udon Thani province on Tuesday. Samak resigned after a court ruling that he had violated the constitution.

Thailand's prime minister is out, but not because he has been forced out by the anti-government demonstrators who have taken over his compound.

For nearly two weeks now, Thailand's embattled and combative Samak Sundaravej vowed to resist the demands of thousands of protesters occupying the prime minister's office. Protesters call him a corrupt proxy for deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinowatra and have been demanding Samak's resignation.

Today Samak finally did step down, brought down not by the mob but by the whisk — after a constitutional court ruled he had violated the constitution by appearing several times as a guest on the cooking show he once hosted before becoming prime minister.

Samak's cooking show had become quite popular in the years before he became prime minister. But the court ruled that his paid guest appearances after he took on his new responsibilities as prime minister were not allowed.

The unusual — and speedy — ruling against the prime minister means his entire Cabinet must resign as well, not coincidentally satisfying the demands of the People's Alliance for Democracy, which has been leading the campaign to unseat Samak.

More than a few eyebrows have been raised at the way the case appears to have been fast-tracked — the verdict was delivered promptly in a country where such cases are known to drag on for months, if not years.

It's not clear what happens next, though Samak's party and its coalition partners say they will renominate him to become prime minister once the dust settles, and the People's Alliance for Democracy says its supporters will remain at Government House for the time being.

That means the political deadlock that has frustrated many Thais and many foreign investors — not to mention many tourists who have had to change their travel plans — isn't likely to be resolved anytime soon.

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