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Thailand PM declares state of emergency after panel calls for ban on ruling party

[JURIST] Thailand's Election Commission [official website, in Thai] on Tuesday voted to recommend [Bangkok Post report] that the country's ruling People's Power Party (PPP) be disbanded for election fraud allegedly committed by one of its former top officers. The five-member panel voted unanimously after finding that the party was complicit in a vote-buying scheme devised by former deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat. Yongyuth was convicted of the crime [Bangkok Post report] by the country's Consitutional Court [official website, in Thai] in July. The EC's recommendation will be sent to the country's Attorney General [official website, in Thai], and if approved, will be brought before the Constitutional Court within 30 days. If disbanded, a number of high-ranking government officials, including Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile], would lose their positions and be barred from political office for five years. ABC News has more.

Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Samak imposed a State of Emergency in Bangkok, prohibiting public gatherings and the incitement of protests. The measures came in reaction to demonstrations held by the pro-government Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) and opposition People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) parties. Criticized [Bangkok Post reports] by lawyers' and journalists' groups, the declaration is the first of its kind in the country and has been challenged in the country's Supreme Administrative Court. PAD members have refused to recognize the order [Bangkok Post report] and have demanded Samak's resignation. Xinhua has more. AP has additional coverage.

PAD announced its 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. The PPP has also been closely associated with former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], now on trial for corruption. PAD members have protested [JURIST report] delays in Thaksin's various corruption trials, and the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) [official website] said that it may bring more charges against Thaksin without waiting for the Office of the Attorney General [official website, in Thai] to file additional indictments.

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