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Thailand internal commission seeks criminal charges against ousted PM

[JURIST] Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) [official website] on Thursday issued a unanimous recommendation to seek criminal charges against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for failing to end the government's rice subsidy program, which allegedly cost the nation billions of dollars. The rice subsidy program paid Thai farmers double the market rate for rice [AP report], and it was a central tenet of Shinawatra's strategy that won her the 2011 general election. The NACC voted [Guardian report] in May to impeach Shinawatra for her role in the government's rice subsidy program that resulted in Thailand losing its position as the world's leading exporter of the agricultural commodity for two years. Shinawatra has vowed to fight the charges in Thailand, after returning from a pre-scheduled trip out of the country.

Shinawatra's administration has been under heavy pressure both from protesters demanding her removal from office and from multiple court battles relating to various alleged instances of misfeasance. In May the Thai Constitutional Court ordered [JURIST report] Shinawatra to step down for an alleged abuse of power relating to the transfer of a senior civil servant to another position in the government that occurred shortly after she took office in 2011. A month prior, the Constitutional Court announced [JURIST report] it would hear the case after two lower courts had found Shinawatra's actions unlawful and ordered the reinstatement of the civil servant removed from office. In February Shinawatra was accused [JURIST report] of neglect of duty relating to her administration's management of the rice subsidy program. Political protests between Shinawatra's supporters and detractors have been extremely volatile, prompting the government to declare [JURIST report] a state of emergency in January after escalating violence between protesters and police.

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