PRIME MINISTER Banharn Silpa-archa yesterday ruled out an early reshuffle of his unpopular Cabinet. Expectations had been running high that he would move to quell increasingly bitter quarrels in the seven-party coalition by shifting aside 'unacceptable faces'. Mr Banharn denied suggestions he had dumped plans for constitutional reform which critics said was crucial to stop politicians wrapped up in short-term projects and self-advancement. Tuesday's weekly Cabinet meeting was billed as a reshuffle special - yet proved a damp squib when key members coolly stayed away. 'There'll be a reshuffle - but not just yet. Perhaps early in the New Year,' Mr Banharn said yesterday. The ambitious leader of the Palang Dharma (Buddhist Force) party, Telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, has irritated coalition colleagues by repeatedly calling for a Cabinet shake-up to boost its public image. But rivals in Government had their revenge when they overturned a Palang Dharma proposal for the second stage of a major motorway contract. His tricky partners leaked to the press that one of his companies owned part of the construction firm he favoured. The contract will now be put up for public tender. Mr Banharn was again forced to defend his commitment to political reform - an unlikely goal for a provincial fixer steeped in the present system. 'There has to be reform but it's important - it can't be rushed,' he said. The surprise election promise by Mr Banharn to adopt a liberal academic's constitutional reform plan was severely tested when he was caught telling a private meeting of well-known businessmen that, in effect, they should not take the affair too seriously. The two dozen members of the Confederation of Democracy that sat on the Government's Political Reform Committee promptly resigned, severely damaging what had always been a strange alliance of liberals and political pragmatists. Critics of the current Constitution, laid down by military fiat, argue that it built little accountability into the political system because politicians could not easily be impeached or brought before a constitutional court for an abuse of power. Critical to the Prawase Wasi's reform plan is the appointment of an independent committee of mostly parliamentary outsiders to form a new Constitution. However, Mr Banharn knows that such a move would be deeply unpopular in Parliament.