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Thailand senate president indicted for malfeasance

Thailand's anti-graft commission indicted Senate President Nikom Wairatpanij [official profile] for alleged wrongdoing when he ended the debate on a bill to amend the Thai constitution [materials] even though members still wanted to discuss the bill further. Wairatpanij has been accused of malfeasance for not being neutral during the debate. The constitutional amendment was introduced [WP report] by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's [BBC profile] ruling party to convert the Senate into an all-elected body. The bill was passed by parliament after debate was prematurely stopped, but in November the Constitutional Court [official website] struck down [NYT report] the amendment. Wairatpanij has been suspended while the Senate decides whether to impeach him.

Shinawatra's administration is currently under heavy criticism from the political opposition in Thailand, and recent weeks have been marred by political violence. In February Shinawatra was charged [JURIST report] with neglect of duty relating to the management of the country's rice subsidy program. This announcement came mere hours after a police officer and three civilians were killed and 64 others injured in clashes in Bangkok's historical district. On February 12 the Thai Constitutional Court rejected [JURIST report] petitions filed by the opposition Democrat Party to annul the January elections on the grounds that they were held unconstitutionally because they were not completed in a single day. The petition also requested [JURIST report] the dissolution of the ruling party and a ban on party executives from holding public office for a period of five years. On January 26 the opposition protest leader Suthin Thararin was shot [JURIST report] to death in Bangkok during a protest blocking a voting station, just five days after the Thai government imposed [JURIST report] a 60-day state of emergency in response to the protests and violence. The Thai opposition requested [JURIST report] international assistance in November to overthrow the current government.

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