Thailand's House speaker resigns

Thailand's House Speaker Yongyudh Tiyapairat resigned his post on Wednesday to face electoral fraud charges that threaten both his political career and the longevity of the current government.

Thailand's House speaker resigns
"I am resigning in order to preserve the institution of Parliament and to prepare myself to fight the charges against me," Yongyudh told a press conference.

Thailand's Supreme Court will open a case against Yongyudh on Friday on charges that he organized vote-buying in the December 23 general election. The election was won by the People Power Party (PPP), in which Yongyudh is an executive member.

If found guilty of committing electoral fraud, Yongyudh faces a loss of his member-of-parliament status and a five-year ban from politics.

His case also poses a threat to the stability of the Thai government, since under the 2007 constitution, the PPP could be dissolved as a political party if the Supreme Court rules that other leaders within the party were complicit in Yongyudh's alleged electoral fraud.

The PPP, which leads the current coalition government, could be dissolved as early as October if the case goes against Yongyudh and the party, which might lead to the calling of another general election.

There are moves afoot within the coalition government to push for amendments of the constitution, specifically article 237, which penalizes the entire party for an act of fraud committed by one member, but it is unclear whether such amendments would apply retroactively.

The clause was included in the 2007 constitution, drafted when Thailand was under a military-appointed interim government, to discourage vote-buying, which has been endemic in Thai politics for decades, and has been blamed for the corruption that typifies most Thai governments.

Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2008, 14:49
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