Pressure is mounting on the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), which votes today on whether to impeach former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and two former parliamentary speakers accused of wrongdoings.
Supporters and detractors of the three targeted politicians - Yingluck, former Parliament president Somsak Kiartsuranon and his ex-deputy Nikom Wairatpanij - have urged the NLA members to vote with their conscience.
Social media yesterday was agog with campaigns from both sides. People supporting impeachment said it was a necessary step towards national reform while those opposing impeachment warned of renewed conflicts if the NLA votes to punish the trio.
Observers, meanwhile, expect the impeachment vote to polarise the nation. "No matter which way it goes, there will be those who agree and those who disagree. It won't please everyone," Reuters quoted Peerasak as saying.
Either way, the vote would create dissension against the junta, said Paul Chambers, director of research at Chiang Mai University's Institute of South East Asian Affairs.
"Ultimately, no matter which way the NLA votes, it will create dissension against the NCPO by either pro- or anti-Thaksin elements of Thai society," he said, referring to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Support from at least three-fifths of the 220-member NLA, or 132 votes, is required to impeach any of the targeted politicians.
An impeached politician will face a five-year ban from holding political office.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accused Yingluck of negligence of duty by failing to curb corruption in her government's rice-pledging scheme, and former House speaker Somsak and Senate ex-speaker Nikom of violating the constitution while chairing parliamentary meetings on charter amendments.
The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which held street protests against Yingluck's government, yesterday called on the NLA members to decide with their conscience.
"It is now the NLA's task to prove that morality and ethics exist in Thai society," PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said in a phone interview with The Nation.
He said Yingluck failed to provide satisfactory answers to NACC's accusations in her closing statement.
Red-shirt leader Kwanchai Praipana yesterday said Yingluck is the latest of the people close to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who are victims of "political persecution".
He also said that as the country has been under the control of the National Council for Peace and Order, the red shirts have been unable to do much in campaigning publicly about this matter.
A politician from Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party, Somkid Chueakong, said yesterday that he expected increased voter support for the party in the next general election if the NLA votes to impeach Yingluck.