Impeachment Recommended for 250 Ex-Lawmakers in Thailand

By Associated Press 13 March 2015

BANGKOK — Thailand’s anti-corruption body has recommended that 250 former lawmakers be impeached, in the latest move targeting supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

National Anti-Corruption Commission spokesman Vicha Mahakun said Thursday that the agency found the lawmakers had misused their authority by seeking to amend the now-defunct constitution to make the Senate fully, rather than partly, elected.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2013 that the attempt to change the composition of the 150-member Senate was unlawful.

Vicha said the agency will submit its evidence to the interim National Legislative Assembly, appointed after a military coup last year. A vote for impeachment could ban the former lawmakers from political office for five years.

The assembly voted Thursday in a related case in which the anti-corruption commission recommended the impeachment of 38 former senators for seeking to change the constitution, but fell short of the three-fifths majority needed to carry out the motion.

Although the former senators had voted the same way as the former lower house members, they are technically non-partisan with no political party affiliations. Members of the lower house were active members of a party loyal to Thaksin. The current military-led government is seeking to crush Thaksin’s political movement.

The moves by the anti-corruption body, along with various court rulings, are widely seen as attempts to cripple the political machine of Thaksin, who was overthrown in a coup in 2006, and to prevent his allies from returning to power.

Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was prime minister until a controversial court decision forced her from office just a few days before last year’s coup. She was impeached earlier this year in connection with a money-losing rice subsidy scheme, barring her from office for five years. The attorney general is pressing criminal charges against her over the same matter.

Thaksin’s supporters believe the traditional establishment—led by royalists and the military—is jealous of his electoral popularity and fear losing power and influence.

A constitution currently being drafted is expected to strengthen the permanent bureaucracy—which is associated with the royalist establishment—at the expense of political parties.