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Constitutional Court to review Abhisit's MP status

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva's political future is hanging in the balance after the Constitutional Court yesterday voted to review his MP status, following the controversial revocation of his Army rank.

The court voted 7-2 to review Abhisit's MP status as requested by 134 Pheu Thai MPs. They allege that he was unqualified to become an MP in line with Article 106 (5) and Article 102 (6) of the Constitution after Defence Minister ACM Sukampol Suwannathat revoked Abhisit's rank of Army captain.

If the Constitutional Court invokes the two articles and rules that Abhisit is unqualified to become an MP, he will not be able to stand as an MP in another election. Article 106 (5) states that the "membership of a member of the House of Representatives terminates upon being under any prohibition under Article 102.

Article 102 (6) states that an MP must not "have been expelled, dismissed or removed from official service, a state agency or a state enterprise on the grounds of dishonest performance of duties or corruption".

The defence minister's order to revoke Abhisit's rank states that his behaviour "violated the morality, ethics and good tradition of commissioned military officers. The deed was dishonest and a severe violation of military disciplines so he should no longer be allowed to remained in military service. And the committee of the Defence Ministry considered and saw that he should be fired from the service for disciplinary violations".

The Constitutional Court will be required to consider whether Abhisit committed wrongdoing as charged or not. If the court rules that Abhisit was fired from military service because of malfeasance, he faces disqualification from ever becoming an MP again.

Abhisit was given the rank of captain for having served as a teacher for the military pre-cadet school, but Sukampol alleges the Democrat leader dodged military conscription and used fake documents to apply for the post. He issued an order to fire Abhisit from military service as the pre-cadet school's teacher retroactively to June 2, 1988. Abhisit was also ordered to return his military earnings.

Abhisit later filed a complaint with the Central Administration Court against the rank revocation, alleging Sukampol was abusing his authority to prosecute him. Constitutional Court chief spokesman Pimol Thampi-thakpong said the Court would send a subpoena to Abhisit, requesting him to send a written explanation to the court within 15 days.

The two judges who rejected the request were Nurak Mapraneet and Chat Chonlavorn. They reasoned that the rank revocation had not been finalised yet because Abhisit was still appealing against it in the Administrative Court.

In a related development, a group of activists who call themselves "Thais Who Love Peace" submitted a petition to Senate Speaker Nikom Waiyaratphanich, calling for Sukampol to be impeached.

The group's leader, Kanchanee Wallayasewri, submitted signatures from 25,000 voters to back the impeachment petition. The petition alleges that Sukampol abused his authority and violated Article 270 of the Constitution after trying to damage the reputation of Abhisit with the rank revocation order.


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