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Thai court likely to force out Yingluck

Publication Date : 07-05-2014

 

Thailand's caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is almost certain to be forced from office today as the Constitutional Court rules on her alleged abuse of power, worsening the country's long political deadlock.

A plan to hold another election on July 20 now appears uncertain, after the election commission yesterday delayed submitting a draft royal decree for the polls. Instead, it called for another meeting with Yingluck.

The current unrest is the latest bout in an eight-year-long conflict between groups aligned with or opposing Yingluck's brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to evade a jail term for corruption.

His opponents boycotted the February 2 polls. At least 25 people have died in the six-month-long political conflict so far.

The anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, which has blockaded various parts of Bangkok - including government offices - during that time, wants Yingluck to resign and demands reforms before any elections are called.

Pro-government camps point out they are being aided by a court that has already forced out two Thaksin-affiliated premiers. In 2008, it threw out Samak Sundaravej for accepting payments to appear on cooking shows and Somchai Wongsawat for electoral fraud.

Yingluck's case involves the transfer of then National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011, which allegedly benefited her relative Priewphan Damapong. She denied the charge yesterday in court.

Kan Yuenyong, an analyst with a private think-tank, Siam Intelligence Unit, told The Straits Times: "It's very clear that the court is determined to take Yingluck out of the position."

The verdict could also be extended to Cabinet members who endorsed the transfer.

If she survives the Constitutional Court decision, Yingluck still faces another charge of negligence brought against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, over a controversial government rice purchase scheme. That ruling, which could also unseat her, is also expected this month.

Pro-government supporters plan to hold a mass rally on Bangkok's outskirts on Saturday, while their opponents are preparing for one next Wednesday.

 

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