PARTY TELLS SUPPORTERS TO MONITOR VERDICT ON MEDIA AMID TIGHT SECURITY
MORE THAN a thousand security officials will be deployed today as the charter court is set to rule on the case for dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party, which found itself in hot water after proposing Princess Ubolratana as its candidate for prime minister in the coming election.
The embattled party’s core leader, Chaturon Chaisang, urged its supporters to closely monitor the verdict by the Constitutional Court through the media. Police yesterday ruled that media could not attend courtroom proceedings today in order to prevent possible chaos.
The party, which is regarded as a political ally of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was charged with undermining the constitutional monarchy system after it proposed a member of the Royal Family as its PM candidate.
Over 1,000 police to be deployed The authorities are expected to deploy 1,200 police today to maintain security in the court compound, as well as set up checkpoints at a distance of 500 metres – out of range of M79 grenade launchers – to prevent possible attacks on the court by people with bad intentions, deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahm-anakul said.
Some 70 closed-circuit surveillance cameras as well as radio communication networks were installed in the court compound to help officials handle security work, he added.
Thirty-two representatives of the party and members of the Election Commission (EC) will be allowed in the courtroom to hear the verdict today. Media representatives will be allowed to monitor the judgement via closed-circuit television outside, Srivara said.
Police have received no requests from the embattled party or its supporters to gather in the area, Srivara said and stressed, “those who want to be present in the court should behave in accordance with the laws”. Party leader Chaturon posted on Facebook that he would attend the court’s reading of the verdict today but expected limited courtroom seating.
“Those who are interested in the court verdict, may I recommend that they follow the news from the media. They don’t need to gather at the court to show their support for the party. There could be some interference [from unknown parties],” he posted.
Princess Ubolratana’s nomination for PM was revoked by the EC after a Royal Command from the HM the King on February 8. The command said that although the princess had relinquished her royal status in 1972, she remained for royal functions an immediate member of the Royal Family.
The princess, who is the eldest sister of the King, should refrain from direct involvement in politics to maintain the status of the monarchical institution as being “above politics”, according to the command.
The party rejected the charge made against it by the EC, arguing that the nomination was constitutional, as it had received her permission in writing in advance.
There will be no hearing or oral testimony today and the final judgement will be read based on evidence previously submitted to the court. If the party were to be found guilty and dissolved, its 14 executive members would be banned from politics for life.
Chaturon and many other party members who are not executive members would be off the hook legally, but the party’s MP candidates could be disqualified from taking part in the election, as they are required to be a member of a political party for at least 90 days before polling day.
The party has 108 members on its party list and 143 constituency candidates are running in the March 24 election.