Straight News, Smart Views|Monday, April 24, 2017

Thai court dismisses PM Yingluck Shinawatra from office 

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (C) walks as she leaves the Constitutional Court in Bangkok on May 6, 2014. Thailand's besieged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra denied an abuse of power allegation at the nation's Constitutional Court on May 6 in a legal challenge which could see her removed from office. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULKITTIWONGSAKUL

Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office, ruling that she abused her power, deepening the kingdom’s political uncertainty.

“The judges unanimously rule that Yingluck abused her prime minister status and interfered in transferring (Thawil Pliensri) for her own benefit,” president of the nine-member court, Charoon Intachan, said in a televised ruling.

“Therefore her prime minister status has ended… Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister.”

Several cabinet ministers who endorsed the decision to transfer the security chief will also be stripped of their status.

It was not immediately clear whether the ruling would create a political vacuum or if one of Yingluck’s ministers nominated after Thawil’s transfer would be able to step into her shoes, pending a future election.

The court ruled on Wednesday that the transfer was carried out with a “hidden agenda” that violated the constitution.

Her supporters accuse the courts of toppling Yingluck through unfair use of the legal system after six months of anti-government protests failed to unseat her.

The complaint was filed to the court by a group of senators who said that the replacement of then-national security chief Thawil Pliensri after Yingluck was elected in 2011 was for the benefit of her party.

Under the constitution, forged after a 2006 coup that ousted Yingluck’s billionaire brother Thaksin Shinawatra as premier, such an offence could lead to her removal and a ban from politics.

Bangkok has been rocked by six months of sometimes violent demonstrations to unseat Yingluck, whose family draws widespread support from the northern portion of the country but is reviled by the establishment in the capital and royalist southerners.

Yingluck has also been charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) with neglect of duty in connection with a costly and bungled rice subsidy scheme that critics say fomented rampant corruption.

If indicted on those charges, Yingluck would be suspended from office and face an impeachment vote in the upper house of parliament that could lead to a five-year ban from politics.

“If the Constitutional Court does not rule against Yingluck, which I think it will, then the NACC will at least impeach her and she would have to step down while the Senate decides on convicting her,” said Paul Chambers, director of research at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University.

Critics accuse the Constitutional Court of rushing through Yingluck’s case and allege previous rulings show that it is politically biased against the Shinawatras.

In 2008, the court forced two Thaksin-linked prime ministers from office.

The Constitutional Court in March nullified a February general election disrupted by protesters, leaving the kingdom in legislative limbo with only a caretaker government.

Thaksin-allied parties won every previous election for more than a decade, helped by strong support in the northern half of the kingdom.

Election authorities and the ruling party have agreed on July 20 for new polls to find a way through the political paralysis, which has chiselled away at Thailand’s once-dynamic growth. – From http://www.sbs.com.au/

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