The Thai cabinet has announced that a new general election would be held on 15 October. This came after the Constitution Court invalidated the April elections and rejected the 22 October date set by the Election Commission.
Holding new elections might not, however, resolve the political deadlock in Thailand. There are some concerns that the election commissioners who have been tasked to supervise the elections might not be neutral. There is an on-going criminal court case against the Election Commission’s alleged failure to prosecute the TRT despite incriminating evidence.
Earlier this week, at the trial, the Democrat Party Secretary-General Suthep Thaugsuban presented a collection of damning photos showing Defence Minister Thamarak Isarangura Na Ayutthaya, a deputy leader of Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) meeting with members from smaller political parties. Suthep alleged that Thamarak was trying to pay the smaller political parties to contest the April elections to ensure that there was no walkover in the constituencies. If the charge is substantiated, the TRT might be forced to dissolve. Not surprisingly, Thaksin and the TRT seemed to be distancing from Thamarak.
The Supreme Court has also declined caretaker Senate Speaker Suchon Chaleekhruas’ call for the Court to nominate candidates to fill two vacancies on the Election Committee. This is seen as a snub by the Supreme Court which seems to have wanted to change the entire team of Election Committee rather than only make individual changes.
Meanwhile the other legal suits continue…
The Central Administrative Court has ruled that only the Constitution Court was empowered to judge whether Thaskin could resume office after his six week break. This litigation was initiated by caretaker Senator Karun Saingam and the People’s Network for Elections.
Thaksin and the TRT have filed a libel case against certain columnists and the manager of Media Group Plc for alleging that the founders of TRT wanted to change the constitutional structure of Thailand from a constitutional monarchy to one that is run by “Thaksinomics.”
With the ongoing political crisis, public and business confidence have fallen. Thailand’s Finance Minister Thanong Bidya has also warned that there is a danger that the budgetary disbursements would be delayed by at least 9 months, adversely affecting the country’s economic growth.
It remains to be seen if the new elections in October will resolve the political deadlock.
Thais Losing Confidence in Politics: Polls (Agence France Presse, 1 June 2006)
Courts Reject Suchon’s Plea to Nominate EC Candidates (Bangkok Post, 1 June 2006)
Rocky Road Ahead For Thai Economy: Finance Minister; However, He Still Expects Economic Growth of 5 Per Cent This Year (The Business Times Singapore, 1 June 2006)
Admin Court Reject Lawsuit On Thaksin’s Status (The Nation, 1 June 2006) TRT Shuns Thammarak (Bangkok Post, 1 June 2006)
Courts Piles Pressure on EC Members (The Nation, 1 June 2006)
Thai Cabinet Accepts Date for New Poll (Financial Times, 31 May 2006)
New Smoking Gun Implicates TRT (The Nation, 31 May 2006)
Video Footage that is Worth a Thousand Words (The Nation, 31 May 2006)
October 15 Elections Allow for 90-day Party Ruling (The Nation, 31 May 2006)
Thamarak Blasted Over Video Links (The Nation, 31 May 2006)
Court Accepts Libel Case by Angry TRT (The Nation, 31 May 2006)