PAD petitions election commission for Thaksin's disqualification

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

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Thailand's People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has petitioned the country's Election Commission to disqualify caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from the upcoming April 2 election and to postpone it, to bring an end to the current political crisis. According to the Bangkok Post, approximately 1,000 PAD protesters rallied outside the election commission's headquarters to mark delivery of the petition.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, claimed at a Thai Journalists Association forum that he had evidence that the PM had abused his position by using government resources to aid in the organisation of a March 3 rally of Thai Rak Thai supporters. In addition, Parinya expressed doubt that the required 500 MPs would be returned, due to the main opposition party election boycott and the requirement for 20% of the eligible electorate to vote for a candidate, even when the candidate stands unopposed.

Thailand 2006 Party ballot

Thailand's Democrats, the current main opposition party, who are boycotting the April 2 election, raised doubts over the validity of a number of Thai Rak Thai candidates' listings. Calling for the Election Commission to investigate these allegations, Pichai Rattanadilok na Phuket of the National Institute of Development Administration also highlighted the 46 constituencies where the Prime Minister's party stands unopposed, viewing vote buying as a possibility in these areas.

According to Democrat claims, over 200 people who applied to be on ballots failed to meet the requirement to have maintained party membership for 90 days prior to the announcement of the election. It isn't just the candidates of smaller parties that have caught the eye of the Democrat panel examining candidate credentials. They claim that at least three of the Thai Rak Thai candidates should be disenfranchised due to having not voted during the 2005 election. The three accused — including the party's deputy leader — dispute the claim that they failed to vote. Party deputy Somchai Sunthornvat claimed it was a person with the same name who had failed to vote, and threatened to sue the Democrat party for making the allegation.

While PAD protesters demonstrated away from Government House, the beleaguered PM returned unnanounced from his election campaigning in the country's northeast. In addition to his having been continuingly called upon leave office, his key privatisation policies had been dealt a serious blow by the ruling that the privatisation of the state-owned power company EGAT was unlawful.

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Judges overturned two royal decrees that had been the foundation of the plan for Thailand's largest ever IPO. Supporters of the eleven civic groups that had filed the petition with the court greeted the decision with cheers. Mention of conflicts of interest in the privatisation process adds fuel to the accusations of anti-Thaksin groups, who accuse the PM of leading a government that indulges in cronyism.

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