Thailand's impeached politicians 'not eligible' for poll

Thailand's impeached politicians 'not eligible' for poll

Impeached politicians - including former premier Yingluck Shinawatra - will not be able to run in the upcoming election scheduled for early next year.

However, the so-called "groups of 111 and 109 MPs" from the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai, People Power, Chart Thai, and Matchimatippatai, who were banned from politics for five years by the Constitutional Court in 2006 and 2007, can seek election.

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) members yesterday finalised draft provisions on the qualifications of MPs, which would allow previously banned politicians to stand during election. However, previously impeached officials would be disqualified.

The article stipulates that "individuals who were convicted for corruption, illegal acts or were involved in electoral fraud" will be disqualified to stand for election.

CDC member Banjerd Singkaneti explained that those individuals who fell in such a category would include former PM Yingluck, who was impeached for dereliction of duty that led to large-scale losses in the infamous rice-pledging scheme launched by her government.

However, Banjerd said that the 111 and 109 MP groups will not be disqualified because these politicians were banned as a result of the Constitutional Court dissolving their parties while they themselves had not directly violated the laws.

Under the new charter provision, MPs from political parties that are dissolved will lose their seats within 60 days after the ruling becomes effective. However, MPs fired from their political parties can retain their status.

CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno said if everything went as planned the next election would take place around February or March next year.

Meanwhile, Election Commis-sioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn yesterday held discussions with CDC members regarding the EC's objections to various CDC proposals to reform the commission.

The discussions included the proposal to take away its responsibility to organise elections and its authority to hand out a "red card" to politicians that would result in a five-year ban.

The members of the new EC, under the new charter provision, will come from appointments by permanent secretaries of various ministries.

Somchai said "the proposal put forward by the CDC will be open to interference by the political [government] sector. They can choose their own people in the commission and it could become a problem.

Therefore, the commission proposes that each permanent secretary nominate three candidates. The commission will scrutinise their profiles and choose one from the three proposed."

Somchai said the EC should be continue to have the power to hand out the "red card", because without that authority politicians will not fear a yellow card, as they will have enough money to buy votes again and again.

The EC's authority to disqualify candidates was recently transferred to the Administrative Court.

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