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constitutionality of emergency decree

Senator to ask Constitutional Court today

A SENATOR said he would today seek the Constitutional Court's judgement on whether the imposing of a state of emergency by the caretaker government violated the Constitution.

Article 181(4) of the charter prohibits the government from using state personnel to gain an advantage in an election, while Article 237 bars any political party from doing anything that would give it an unfair advantage in an election, said Senator Paiboon Nititawan.

National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said the government has declared a state of emergency because there has been continued use of violence - including the use of bombs and guns - and the seizure of important state premises.

Paradorn dismissed doubts over whether a caretaker government has the legal authority to declare a state of emergency, saying the government had consulted with concerned agencies before making the declaration.

The government was preparing to use some 12,000 police officers and troops to enforce the state of emergency, Paiboon said, adding that the use of these personnel would give the ruling Pheu Thai Party an advantage in the February 2 election.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan, who are Pheu Thai party-list candidates, were present at the Cabinet meeting when the decision was made to impose the emergency decree, Paiboon said.

The decision-making process for imposing the state of emergency was questionable, the senator said. Prior to the declaration, there were three meetings held in the same building: the weekly Cabinet meeting, a meeting of the now-defunct Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO)'s working group; and a meeting of security-related ministers.

The Cabinet meeting chaired by Yingluck started at 2.40pm on Tuesday, and the CAPO meeting began at 3.15pm. It was unclear |whether the prime minister joined the CAPO meeting to make the decision on imposing the state of emergency. A source said the emergency decree consideration was not on the working group's initial agenda. It was introduced to the meeting at the last minute when caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the CAPO chief, joined the meeting. The decision was made in 15 minutes by consensus of the participants.

People's Democratic Reform Committee spokesman Ekanat Prompan said the government had resorted to a state of emergency as it wants to use force against the people. The law violates the basic constitutional right of the people to hold peaceful protests, he said. The protesters would also seek a court ruling to end the enforcement of the emergency decree, he said.




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