Thailand’s Constitution Court on Tuesday accepted a case against the ruling Democrat Party that could lead to its dissolution and the banning of its executives from politics. The Office of the Attorney General submitted a writ against the party, accusing it of receiving 258 million baht (808,000 dollars) in illicit campaign donations from a private company in 2004.
“Now it’s up to the Constitution Court to set the date for the trial and determine how long it takes,” Attorney General Chulasingh Vasantasingh said.
The court gives opinions on constitutional issues but cannot overrule a final judgement of the Supreme Court. If it rules against the Democrats, the court may dissolve the 64—year—old party, Thailand’s oldest, and ban 40 of its executive members from politics for five years.
The ban would include Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the current party leader, who was deputy leader in 2004 when the alleged illicit donation was made to the party’s election campaign by TPIPolene Pcl, a cement company.
Under Thailand’s 2007 constitution, a political party found guilty of election fraud faces dissolution, and its entire executive team must be banned for five years from politics even if they played no direct role in the offence.
Several political parties have been dissolved and their executives banned by court rulings since 2007. The Democrat Party’s lawyers plan to argue that the 2007 constitution cannot be used retroactively in the case.
Under the previous 1998 Political Party Act, the court was empowered to dissolve the party if found guilty of election fraud but could not ban its executives.
The Democrats have also been accused of misusing a 29—million—baht grant from the Election Commission in the 2005 polls.
Mr. Abhisit became prime minister in a parliamentary vote in December 2008 after the then—ruling People’s Power Party was dissolved by the Constitution Court. The Democrats lead a five—party coalition government whose term ends in December 2011.