Thailand's anti-graft agency moves to get Senate to impeach speaker

Thai anti-government protesters blow whistles as they gather outside the Royal Thai Police Headquarters during a rally in downtown Bangkok on March 6, 2014.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission will submit documents to the Senate tomorrow on the impeachment of caretaker Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij, NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljiak said yesterday.

The NACC voted unanimously on Thursday to indict Nikom, who was also acting Parliament President, over his alleged violation of the Constitution while chairing parliamentary meetings that debated a charter amendment bill on the make-up of the Senate.

Sansern said the NACC's investigation into the conduct of former House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, who was also President of Parliament, in relation to the matter was expected to be finished within a few weeks.

Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai said he would call a special Senate meeting to discuss the matter in early April.

After receiving the NACC's decision, the Senate is required to call a meeting within 20 days.

A politician can only be impeached if three-fifth of the Senate vote to do so.

The Senate currently only has 73 appointed senators, as the term of the 77 elected senators ended early this month and a half-Senate election has been set for next Sunday.

Surachai said it was uncertain whether the newly elected senators would be able to start work before the impeachment vote.

In a separate development, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has told her legal team to carefully prepare the documents in defence of her alleged negligence in the rice-pledging scheme, as charged by the NACC.

The anti-graft agency gave Yingluck until yesterday to defend herself, in person or in writing.