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Thai Constitution Court convenes last hearing on coalition parties' electoral dissolution case
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16:00, December 02, 2008

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Thailand's Constitution Court convened Tuesday morning to hear closing statements on the critical electoral fraud cases against three parties in the coalition government.

The Court session convened at 10:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) as scheduled.

Following the summation of prosecution by chief public prosecutor Seksan Bangsomboon, leader of Chart Thai Party -- one of the accused coalition parties, Banharn Silapa-archa is expected to deliver final defense statement against the charges of the party 's involvement in electoral fraud in last December's general election.

The other two defendants are the biggest ruling People Power Party (PPP), to which Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat belongs, and the smaller Matchima Thipataya Party.

The PPP have opted not to appear at the summation session. Matchima Thipataya Party leader Anongwan Thepsuthin is expected to participate in the summation.

Constitution Court president Chat Chonlaworn has confirmed that the verdict will be handed down on Tuesday after the hearing.

If the three parties were found guilty, they would be disbanded and their executives banned from politics for five years, in line with the 2007 Constitution, as faced with the former ruling party Thai Rak Thai (TRT) last May after its founder and ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in the Sept. 19, 2006 military coup.

Amid tight security around the Constitution Court, government supporters in red T-shirts since early morning rallied outside the Constitution Court to show moral support to the government and blocked the roads in front of the court in attempt to prevent judges entering the court.

Earlier reports said the besiege had forced the judges to move to the Administration Court to chair the session.

On July 8, the Supreme Court ruled that former House speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat, former deputy PPP leader, was found guilty of buying votes during last Dec. 23 general election, which saw PPP win most votes, and banned him from engaging in politics for five years.

Under Thailand's Election Law under the 2007 Constitution, if any executive member of a political party committed electoral fraud, the party could be dissolved and its executive committee will be banned from engaging in political activities for five years.

PM Somchai is now acting PPP leader after his predecessor Samak Sundaravej resigned from the party leadership post on Sept. 30. If the party is disbanded, Somchai would lose his premiership and his Cabinet will go with him. A deputy prime minister, who is not a party executive, could be appointed to succeed Somchai.

On Tuesday there will also be an annual military parade at the Royal Plaza in central Bangkok, as a tradition three days ahead of King Bhumibol's birthday on Dec. 5.

PM Somchai and his Cabinet are scheduled to attend the military parade in Bangkok, presided over by the King and the Queen.

Somchai has made Chiang Mai the temporary government seat since his return from Peru for the APEC summit last Wednesday, as a civil anti-government movement led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) occupied the Government House, and then besieged the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in a showdown to topple the Somchai government, which they said was a proxy of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.


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