Thai court bars opposition party leader from parliament

Thai opposition party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thailand's Constitutional Court yesterday disqualified outspoken opposition party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as a Member of Parliament after finding him guilty of violating election law.

Mr Thanathorn, 40, has emerged as the most prominent opponent of a government headed by former junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha, 65, after the progressive Future Forward Party came a surprise third in an election in March.

The Constitutional Court found Mr Thanathorn guilty of holding shares in a media company on the date his candidacy was registered for the election to formally end five years of military rule.

ASSUMPTIONS

In its ruling, the court said the evidence against Mr Thanathorn outweighed that in his favour. The opposition leader had argued that he had disposed of the shares in time.

After the ruling, Mr Thanathorn said the court had ruled based on assumptions rather than facts.

"I'm still the leader of the Future Forward party and the party is the journey. The journey never ends," Mr Thanathorn said.

"The people will move forward together and I'll continue to work on amending the constitution."

Mr Thanathorn's party had won 80 out of 500 available seats in the Lower House of Parliament in the election.

After the court ruling, #RIPThailand and #StandWithThanathorn were among the hashtags trending on Twitter in Thailand, along with his name and the party's name in Thai.

Mr Thanathorn also faces two criminal charges, one for computer crimes for a speech he posted on Facebook criticising the junta last year, and another for sedition for allegedly aiding anti-junta protesters in 2015.

In all, nearly 30 cases have been brought against Future Forward leaders.

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