The chances of a compromise candidate being brought in to lead the Thai Government diminished yesterday when former premier Chatichai Choonhavan refused the country's top job. This makes it more likely that the outgoing leader Banharn Silpa-archa will call fresh elections - rather than hand over to one his disloyal partners. A move towards a dissolution of Parliament and elections appears to have growing support in Thailand as the scramble to replace Mr Banharn descended into a political farce. The proud Sino-Thai veteran from Suphan Buri province was ousted on Saturday in what has been described as a political coup by former supporters. Many of his partners in the ruling six-party coalition demanded that he agreed to 'resign within seven days' as the price of their support in an opposition censure motion. The embittered premier has tried to push forward his 86-year-old brother-in-law - the Chart Thai (Thai Nation) party's Pramarn Adireksarn. He countered complaints that Mr Pramarn no longer had his mind on the job by then advocating the veteran's son, Pongpol. Mr Banharn has said he can only step down when the new prime minister has been approved and the next cabinet named. 'Mr Banharn has to decide which is better: knifing his disloyal partners or upsetting his friends who do not want the expense of an election too soon,' said a diplomat. 'It looks increasingly as if Mr Banharn is going to pull the Government down with him the way its going,' he added. Mr Chatichai, who was one of the founders of Mr Banharn's Chart Thai party, was a strong candidate as prime minister before his refusal. Being in opposition at the head of his own Chart Pattana (National Development) party is no big hurdle in the ever-accommodating Parliament. But his deputy, Prachuab Chaiyasarn, said the coalition had lost legitimacy in the censure debate where it was pilloried amid charges of corruption and incompetent economic management. Mr Prachaub said the opposition Democrat Party - which led the last government - should be allowed to lead the country under former prime minister Chuan Leekpai. 'I dare the coalition to conduct a referendum to see if one of its people can beat Chuan. 'Of course it couldn't,' Mr Prachaub said. The Democrat Party - the most policy conscious of the Thai parties - would never work with the political piranhas of Chart Thai. But the opposition party's chances of leading the next government are looking stronger by the day.