[Thailand] Democrat Party faces dissolution

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bangkok Post

The Election Commission on Monday decided by a vote of 4-1 to recommend the dissolution of the ruling Democrat Party for receiving an illegal 258 million baht donation and the alleged misuse of a 29 million baht political development fund provided by the EC.

The decision was made at a special meeting of the EC chaired by Apichart Sukhagganond.

Mr Apichart, who is ex officio political party registrar, presented his recommendation to the commission for consideration.

Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham revealed earlier the crucial meeting would be held today.

In December last year, the EC resolved that Mr Apichart, as the political party registrar, should decide whether to propose the dissolution of the Democrat Party to the Constitution Court.

Today's decision dealt a severe blow on the Democrat Party, whose leader and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is under unrelenting pressure from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to immediately dissolve the House of Representatives and call a general election.

The red-shirts at the Ratchaprasong intersection roared with joy on hearing the news from leader Veera Musikhapong, who said he hoped the case would proceed quickly.

Thousands of UDD's red-shirts on April 5 converged on the EC headquarters on Chaeng Wattana road and accused the commission of the dragging out a decision in the case against the Democrat Party.

Bowing to the UDD's demand, the EC said it would come up with a decision by April 20.

The EC will forward its decision to the Office of the Attorney-General. The OAG then has 30 days to review the case.

If the OAG's decision contradicts the EC's ruling, a joint committee would be set up to consider the case. If the OAG agrees with the EC, it will refer the case to the Constitution Court for a final decision.

The Democrat Party, Thailand's oldest political party, was accused of receiving more than 258 million baht in illegal donations from TPI Polene for use in the 2005 general election and not declaring it. The party was also accused of misusing the Politics Development Fund worth 29 million baht.

The current and previous constitutions limit individual donations to 10 million baht a year.

TPI Polene, a cement firm, was alleged to have made donations totalling 258 million baht to the Democrats through Messiah Business and Creation Co, an advertising company.

The Democrat Party faces possible dissolution and its executives could be banned from politics for five years if the Constitution Court upholds the Election Commission's finding.


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