Govt's legal woes intensify

national February 04, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Democrats' court petition follows NACC, EC probes against Yingluck

The opposition Democrat Party will today bring to the Constitutional Court the first legal case against the government regarding Sunday’s election.

This will be the latest in a host of problems facing the government of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The PM is being investigated by the Election Commission (EC) for alleged abuse of authority in recent poll campaigning, and by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged dereliction of duty involving the rice-pledging scheme.
EC member Boonsong Noiso-pon said yesterday the agency was looking into accusations that the prime minister abused her power by having many senior public officials join her recent provincial trips in the run-up to the election.
He said the EC was also investigating a complaint against the PM and Cabinet members accusing them of issuing the amnesty bill unlawfully. The case would be referred to Parliament to decide whether it should be filed with the charter court for impeachment.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the party would today lodge a petition with the Constitu-tional Court against the government for holding the poll unconstitutionally. The government violated Article 68, he said. This article prohibits people from exercising a right with the aim of overthrowing the democratic system, or of acquiring power to rule the country by any means not in accordance with the Constitution.
Abhisit said there were many legal problems with the election and Yingluck had decided to go ahead with it, though she was warned by the EC of the problems. 
The Democrat Party would also ask the anti-graft body to file criminal charges against Yingluck and Cabinet members, Abhisit said.
Democrat Party legal expert Wiratana Kalayasiri said they would ask the Constitutional Court to order the dissolution of Pheu Thai Party, disqualify its executives and ban 18 Cabinet members who are Pheu Thai MP candidates.
Sunday’s election saw a very low voter turnout in many provinces, with the number of eligible voters who cast their ballots declining from the previous poll of 2011.
In just 34 provinces – less than half of all 77 provinces and most of them in the North and Northeast – the turnout was 50 per cent or over. Nationwide the turnout was 45.8 per cent, compared to 75 per cent in 2011. Bangkok had a turnout of only 26 per cent, compared to 71.6 per cent in the previous poll, according to EC figures.
Other provinces with unusually low turnout included Prachuap Khiri Khan (14 per cent), Samut Songkhram (24), Kanchanaburi (25), Rayong (26), and Chon Buri (28). Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South had a turnout of only 0.1 per cent, as voting could be held only in a fraction of polling stations. 
Yingluck wants new voting to be held in constituencies and provinces where the election was disrupted on Sunday, a source said. The goal was to meet the minimum number of seats in the House required to elect a new premier and function as soon as possible.
Separately, the other election commissioners yesterday turned down Somchai Srisuthiyakorn’s offer to step down from his position in charge of holding elections. Somchai said he would comply with the EC’s resolution and continue performing his duty.

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