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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Thai press sceptical on Thaksin 'pause'
Outgoing Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin announced his resignation on Wednesday

Newspapers in Thailand are unconvinced by the prime minister's decision to temporarily hand over power to his deputy.

Scepticism as to Thaksin Shinawatra's true intentions is widespread, and there are calls for action to resolve the broader issues that prompted demands for his resignation in the first place.

Headlines in many of the country's leading newspapers - including the two largest-circulation outlets, Thai Rat and the Daily News - stop short of calling his decision to step aside a resignation.

They describe it instead as a "pause".

A cartoon in the Thai Post depicts Mr Thaksin with Pinocchio's long nose, announcing on television: "I will take a pause. I will take a pause. I will take a pause. Really I will."

A headline in the Bangkok Post is similarly sceptical, asking whether his announcement is a "total break or simply a canny ploy?"

Chances of reform?

But even if Mr Thaksin is genuine about his personal career plans, a commentary in The Nation warns, this is not as important as whether his "regime" continues.

"If he is gone, but the practices of Thaksin remain in place than the evils in our society will continue," it says.

Another newspaper, Khao Sot, agrees that the issue is about more than just one man's role, saying the real task for Thais is to "reform politics and clean up ethical problems".

An editorial in The Nation detects a mood of cautious optimism about the chances for real change.

It acknowledges that it will take a "suspension of disbelief" to expect a government led by Mr Thaksin's party to tackle the reforms needed to "deter, prevent and punish the very kind of underhanded strategies and tactics... that they have allegedly perfected over the past five years".

But on the other hand, it suggests that a weary public is prepared to give them a chance to do so.

"In the spirit of national reconciliation, Thai society is prepared to give Thaksin... and his party one last chance to reform themselves," it adds, "or be swept aside to the scrap heap of history."

Comeback?

But doubts as to Mr Thaksin's personal intentions persist.

Phuchatkan, a newspaper owned by media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul, a key figure in the movement opposing the prime minister, carries a headline accusing him of seeking to install a new premier "to maintain the Thaksin regime".

And a commentary in the Thai Day believes Mr Thaksin could easily reclaim his position in a year's time.

His resignation now, it warns, could let him "claim to have saved democracy from an unelected street mob" and return later with regained support.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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