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Thailand AG asks Constitutional Court to dissolve ruling party

[JURIST] Thailand's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Friday filed a petition [Bangkok Post report] to have the country's Constitutional Court [official website, in Thai] dissolve the ruling People's Power Party (PPP) [party website, in Thai] because of election fraud allegedly committed by one of its former top officers. Former PPP deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat was convicted of organizing a vote-buying scheme [Bangkok Post report] by the Constitutional Court in July, and under Thai law the entire party could be banned for association with the crime. The OAG's action follows a September recommendation [Bangkok Post report] by the country's Election Commission [official website, in Thai] to break up the party because of the alleged fraud. If disbanded, a number of high-ranking government officials, including prime minister Somchai Wongsawat [Nation backgrounder], would lose their positions and be barred from political office for five years. Xinhua has more. The Straits Times has additional coverage.

The petition comes as the PPP party faces broad public criticism and protests [AFP report] opposing its rule. In late September, the Election Commission said it would begin an investigation [Bangkok post report; JURIST report] into allegations that Wongsawat illegally holds stocks in companies which operate under government contracts. Earlier that month, then prime minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] instituted a controversial state of emergency [JURIST report] to quell the demonstrations, but was later removed from office after receiving illegal compensation for an appearance on a television cooking show. The PPP has also been closely associated with former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], now on trial for corruption.

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