The Constitutional Court yesterday agreed unanimously to accept the Election Commission (EC)’s petition to dissolve the pro-Shinawatra Thai Raksa Chart Party for allegedly undermining the constitutional monarchy system.
The party received a copy of the petition yesterday and has seven days to submit its testimony.
A hearing will be held on February 27, a statement from the court said.
Meanwhile, the chief of the party’s legal team, Pichit Chuenban, said yesterday that his team would study the petition before discussing the matter at a party meeting next Monday.
The development follows an EC complaint on Wednesday against the party for allegedly breaching the Political Party Law by nominating Princess Ubolratana as its prime ministerial candidate last week.
The nomination, however, was immediately terminated by the EC following His Majesty the King’s royal command.
Meanwhile, the party’s executives gave no indication of the direction their election campaign would take with the threat of party dissolution hanging over them.
Key party members like Chaturon Chaisang, Nattawut Saikua, Pichai Nariptaphan and Weng Tojirakarn yesterday called off their electoral campaign and instead met at the party headquarters to discuss the issue.
Later, Chaturon, who chairs the party’s strategic committee, told the press that the party would have to put its election campaign plans on hold, especially events involving meetings with huge numbers of voters and public speeches. He said this was to avoid complications.
“Now, we have to see what fits the situation,” he said. “Since the accusation involves a sensitive issue, we should now prioritise preparing for the case that is now with the Constitutional Court.”
The party would resume contact with voters once the legal issues were settled, he added.
Though these members were not a part of the executive board, whose members could be banned from politics for life if the party were to be dissolved, Chaturon said they were willing to help the party tide over the problems.
He added that his team wanted to see the party flourish and help sort out issues of public interest.
Chaturon, who was initially expected by Shinawatra supporters to be named a PM candidate of the party, denied there were any conflicts that had led to his name being left out of the party’s PM list. Observers have also pointed to him being away from the scene since the Princess’s nomination caused controversy.
Chaturon said he was closely following the news, and as a non-executive party member, he had no power to make any decision but was willing to help find a solution.
He added that despite the lawsuit and threats of party dissolution, he had no regrets and had no plans to leave the party.
Key member Nattawut, who chairs the party-election campaign, said major campaigns may have to be put on hold for the time being due to the lawsuit. However, he said, the MP candidates may be obliged to continue working with voters.
Nattawut added that he would stick with Thai Raksa Chart all the way and was determined to bring democracy back to the country despite the party’s problems.
Before the court’s decision was announced yesterday, Thai Raksa Chart’s party-list MP candidate Ruangkrai Leekitwatana had approached the court, pleading for it to reject the EC petition.
He said the complaint was unlawful as it had been filed without an initial investigation.
A pro-election group led by activists Anurak Jentawanich and Ekachai Hongkangwan yesterday also protested against the attempt to disband Thai Raksa Chart.
They said disbanding the party could deepen the political conflict and it also reflected the EC’s double standards when dealing with Shinawatra supporters. They called the occurrence a conspiracy by the ruling regime.