Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand steps aside

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand steps aside

BANGKOK - Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday announced he was suspending his duties as governor due to legal proceedings that alleged he had benefited from a slanderous election campaign.

He said, however, he would be back when the country needed him. "From the 1.2 million votes I won, I can't abandon people who voted for me. We will meet again when the country needs me," he said in a press conference at City Hall.

Sukhumbhand's duty suspension is required by law after the Court of Appeals agreed, at the request of the Election Commission (EC), to consider whether a new gubernatorial election should be held in Bangkok.

The EC voted early in March to disqualify Sukhumbhand as the winner of the Bangkok governor election a year ago on allegations he framed his opponent during the election campaign.

Although Sukhumbhand was not personally engaged in the so-called campaign, the process was said to have helped him win last year's election to return as city governor.

The EC recommended that a new gubernatorial election be held in Bangkok, with Sukhumbhand allowed to stand again. However, the final decision would depend on a ruling from the Court of Appeals.

Sukhumbhand said he did nothing wrong, but he would respect the law and the court and believed he would get justice from the court.

During his conference, the governor took a life-size effigy of himself along with him. He jokingly said he would put the effigy in front of his office so people would not forget that he remained the governor.

High-ranking officials at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration later gave roses for moral support to Sukhumbhand, who was close to tears from time to time.

"I'm still your governor. I [will] just take a vacation. I will now take a rest, have a medical check-up, and stay with my grandchildren," he said.

Reports said earlier he would hand the job over to his first deputy, Pusadee Tamthai, until a final decision was made.

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