Thailand opposition seeks impeachment of prime minister News
Thailand opposition seeks impeachment of prime minister

[JURIST] Thailand's opposition Democrat party Wednesday announced it would launch an impeachment bid against Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile] after a series of court decisions against key officials in the government and Samak's People Power Party (PPP). On Wednesday, the Thai Constitutional Court [official website, in Thai] dismissed Thai Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsup from office after finding he had violated finance laws by not declaring certain assets held by his wife. On Tuesday, the court had ruled [JURIST report] that a June cabinet communique signed by Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama in support of a World Heritage site on Thailand's border with Cambodia was unconstitutional [PDF press release, in Thai]. Opposition parties have since announced plans to seek Noppadon's impeachment. Also Tuesday, the Thai Supreme Court found ranking PPP official Yongyuth Tiyapairat guilty of voter fraud related to last December's election. Experts say that the ruling could clear the way for further legal actions against the PPP, including a possible bid for the party's dissolution. AFP has more. TNA has additional coverage. The Bangkok Post has local coverage.

The PPP has been closely associated with former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], now on trial for corruption. Protesters have demanded Samak's resignation, accusing him of being a puppet for Thaksin. On Monday, members of the People's Alliance for Democracy protested [JURIST report] delays in various corruption trials Thaksin is facing, and the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) [official website] said that it may bring more charges against Thaksin without waiting for Office of the Attorney General [official website, in Thai] to file additional indictments. In March, Thaksin pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges stemming from a 2003 land purchase his wife, Pojamarn, made from a government-directed institution despite a ban on officials making business deals with government agencies. The court will determine whether Thaksin abused the authority of his office to influence the deal. The judgment in the trial, which is expected to last about two months, cannot be appealed, and Thaksin could be sentenced to up to 13 years in prison if found guilty.