Yingluck impeachment proceedings to go ahead

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will face impeachment proceedings for alleged failure to stop corruption in her government's rice-pledging scheme, after National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said yesterday that the case would be on the agenda of the NLA meeting on November 12.

On October 14, the NLA president said he had accepted the case filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) against Yingluck for her failure to stop corruption and the massive losses suffered by the state in the rice-pledging scheme. He explained that the NACC had found that Yingluck, in her position as prime minister, had intentionally violated Article 178 of the 2007 Constitution, Article 11 (1) of the State Administration Act (1991) and Article 58 of the Constitution Organic Law on Anti-Corruption.

The NLA president said that though there were claims that the charge of abuse of authority against Yingluck was in violation of the 2007 charter, which is now defunct, the suit filed by the NACC clearly indicates why the former PM should be impeached.

"This has led me to believe that the impeachment case should proceed in accordance with the revoked [2007] Constitution and state regulations. Hence, I have instructed [the agencies concerned] that the impeachment case against Yingluck be scheduled as a special agenda on November 12," Pornpetch said.

Copies of documents related to the impeachment case have been sent to Yingluck and NLA members, he said. The former PM could face a five-year ban from politics if she is impeached.

According to the NLA meeting regulation, after the assembly accepts the case it would schedule a date for Yingluck and the NACC to make a statement before the NLA. The NLA would set up a committee if any assembly members wanted to debate or ask questions. After that, the NLA will schedule a date for both the NACC and Yingluck to make their closing statements. Normally, the process will take about 45 days before the vote on whether to impeach or not.

Pornpetch also said that the NLA would meet next Thursday to discuss and decide on whether to accept the impeachment case against former Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranon and his then-deputy Nikom Wairatpanich for deliberation.

The NACC had ruled earlier that Somsak and Nikom should face impeachment proceedings because they had proposed a bill that sought to amend the Constitution and change the composition of the Senate.

The chairman said the difference between Yingluck's case and those of Somsak and Nikom was that in the ex-PM's case, though the 2007 Constitu-tion is defunct, its organic laws are still in force. He said, the NLA could go ahead with the impeachment process against Yingluck.

Pornpetch said the NLA had earlier deferred making a decision on whether to accept the impeachment case against the previous government's top politicians due to legal technicalities. He added that the assembly would have to vote to decide whether to also accept impeachment cases against Somsak and Nikom.

The assembly chairman explained that some NLA members still harboured doubts over whether the alleged constitutional offences were still valid as the 2007 charter had already been scrapped. Pornpetch said the assembly this time, would make a decision without delay, adding that the NLA had the final say and that there was no need to seek a Constitutional Court ruling on the matter.