Thailand constitutional court will hear petition to void April election

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website] agreed Monday to consider a petition to void the country's April 2 general election [BBC report] after Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej [official profile] called on the court last week to take a more active role [JURIST report] in resolving the country's ongoing election crisis [JURIST report]. Court Secretary-General Paiboon Varahapaitoon said the 14-judge panel will rule soon on the case brought by a civic group and law lecturers who claim that the elections were fraudulent. The country's Election Commission [official website] will be granted three days to offer its defense to the allegations that it committed irregularities in the voting process.

Last Friday, the Administrative Court of Thailand [official website] called off by-elections [JURIST report] scheduled for the weekend to wait for the Constitutional Court's opinion. That decision [press release, in Thai] has been appealed [Xinhua report] by the Election Commission, with the EC relying on a 2003 Constitutional Court ruling that the commission has absolute authority to manage elections. The April 2 election was called by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [official profile] three years earlier than originally scheduled in an attempt to show support against protestors who accused him of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin's plan backfired, however, as his Thai Rak Thai [party website, in Thai] party failed to win as many votes as they had in the February 2005 election, leaving many seats empty in the Thai Parliament [official website]. Under the Thai constitution [text], parliament cannot convene until all seats are filled. Thaksin said he would step down as prime minister when parliament did meet, but his deputy prime minister said Sunday that Thaksin would not have to adhere to his comments if the court annulled the election results. Reuters has more.

 

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