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Thai court dissolves ruling party
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16:01, December 02, 2008

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Thailand's Constitution Court on Tuesday ruled the three ruling parties in the coalition government-- People Power Party (PPP), Chart Thai Party and Matchima Thipataya Party were guilty of electoral fraud charges and ordered them to be dissolved.

All the three party's executives were banned from politics for five years as punishment in line with the 2007 Constitution.

The Constitution Court began to read the verdicts against the three parties on electoral fraud charges at around 12:20 p.m. (0520GMT) Tuesday after hearing the closing statements from both the prosecutors and the defendants in the morning.

The verdicts reading process took only some 40 minutes to complete, unexpectedly much swifter than the Court did in May last year to the former ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party following the Sept. 19, 2006 coup that ousted then premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The TRT was disbanded on electoral fraud charges and its 111 executives including founder Thaksin Shinawatra were banned from politics for five years.

The PPP, which is seen by opponents as a reincarnation of the TRT, did not attend Tuesday's summation session, protesting that the judges were biased against the government.

Anti-government protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who had occupied the Government House for three months and lately besieged and shut down two airports in Bangkok in a showdown to topple the government, hailed as the Court handed down the verdicts.

As a result of the verdict, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who is acting leader of PPP, will lose his premiership according to the Constitution. The whole cabinet must go with him. A deputy prime minister, who is not a party executive, could be appointed to succeed Somchai to lead the caretaker cabinet.

On July 8, the Supreme Court ruled that former House speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat, former deputy PPP leader, was found guilty of vote-buying 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.


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