[JURIST] Thailand’s legislature [official website] on Friday began an impeachment hearing against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile], who is charged for her alleged role in a disastrous government rice subsidy scheme. The Thai military-appointed legislature is expected to vote on their verdict by the end of the month. If impeached, Yingluck could be banned from politics for five years. Yingluck was forced from office [WSJ report] in May after a court declared that she had illegally transferred the nation’s security chief. The next day, Thailand’s anti-graft commission indicted Yingluck on charges of dereliction of duty in overseeing the widely criticized rice subsidy program [WSJ report]. The legislature also began separate impeachment hearings against a former house speaker and a former senate speaker for allegedly trying to amend the constitution, which the military suspended when it came into power [BBC report].
Thailand has been rocked by months continuous street protests aimed at forcing Yingluck from office. In February the Constitutional Court rejected petitions [JURIST report] filed by both the ruling and opposition parties accusing each other of attempting to overthrow the country’s government during recent elections. In November 2013 Yingluck announced [JURIST report] that there will be no early election in response to recent protests by citizens who want her removed from office. Also in November the prime minister invoked [JURIST report] a special security law in districts of Bangkok and nearby areas after protesters stormed and occupied several key ministries. The law, known as the Internal Security Act, gives police additional powers to block routes, impose curfews, ban gatherings and carry out searches. Thailand’s political system has been unstable since the 2006 military coup [AHRC backgrounder, PDF] by the Royal Thai Army against then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile], brother of Yingluck.