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Thailand high court ousts PM for accepting payment from cooking show appearance

[JURIST] Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej [official website, English version; BBC profile] and his cabinet were ousted Tuesday following a guilty verdict from the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website, in Thai] on the charge that Samak violated the constitution when he accepted payment for his appearance on a television cooking program [Sky News report, with video]. Section 267 of the Constitution of Thailand [PDF text] states in part:

Except for holding a position and performing duties according to the provisions of the law, the Prime Minister or Ministers are prohibited to hold a position in a partnership, company, or business enterprise pursuing profits or income to be shared, or be an employee of any person.
The court unanimously rejected Samak's defense that he received only an honorarium [Bloomberg report] as a free-lance actor when he appeared on the show. Samak and his cabinet will remain in temporary control while the nation's political parties meet to nominate candidates for the position. Samak himself may regain the seat if selected by his ruling People's Power Party (PPP) as was indicated by his party spokesmen [Xinhua report]. The Times Online has more. The Sydney Morning Herald has additional coverage.

Last week Samak imposed a state of emergency in Bangkok [press release; JURIST report] following weeks of anti-government protests. Members of the opposition People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) party refused to recognize the order as they demanded Samak's resignation. Samak resisted those calls and instead proposed a national referendum [JURIST report] on whether he should continue in office. PAD announced plans to seek Samak's impeachment [JURIST report] in July after a series of court decisions against key officials in the government and the PPP. Also last week, Thailand's Election Commission voted to recommended that the PPP be disbanded [JURIST report] for election fraud allegedly committed by one of its former top officers.

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