EC Petitions Court To Dissolve Opposition Move Forward Party

The Election Commission (EC) submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court on Monday, seeking the dissolution of the main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP).

A source from the polling agency revealed that the EC’s secretary-general, Sawang Boonmee, electronically transmitted the petition to the court.

This source mentioned that the court convenes for its weekly meeting every Wednesday, leaving it uncertain if the petition will be considered at the upcoming meeting.

On March 12, the EC unanimously decided to petition the Constitutional Court for the disbandment of the MFP, following a January 31 ruling.

This ruling found the MFP’s efforts to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, to suggest an intent to undermine the constitutional monarchy.

The EC’s petition is based on this ruling, arguing that the MFP breached Section 92 of the organic law governing political parties, which allows for the dissolution of parties seen as a threat to the constitutional monarchy.

Furthermore, the court has directed the MFP to halt all efforts to modify Section 112, stating that advocating for such changes is viewed as an attack on the constitutional monarchy and a violation of Section 49 of the constitution.

The proposed changes by the MFP included a mandate that complaints under the lese majeste law be filed exclusively by the Royal Household Bureau and advocated for lesser penalties.

Judges have also highlighted past actions by Pita Limjaroenrat, the party’s former leader, and the MFP’s overall conduct, including efforts to secure bail for lese majeste suspects.

As a consequence, 44 MPs from the party, including key advisor Mr. Pita, are under investigation for potentially violating ethical standards regarding their stance on the lese majeste law, which could result in a lifetime political ban.

Last month, attorney Theerayut Suwankesorn submitted a request to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to examine allegations of a significant ethical breach by 44 legislators who proposed changes to Section 112 on March 25, 2021.

Following the court’s decision on January 31, Mr. Theerayut also urged the EC to initiate dissolution actions against the MFP. He emphasized the legal requirement for political figures to uphold ethical standards, including the protection of the royal institution.

According to Section 235, if the NACC discovers substantial evidence of a serious ethical breach by political figures, the case must be escalated to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

Should the court rule in favuor, the individuals involved will be temporarily relieved of their duties while awaiting the court’s decision.

A guilty verdict will ban them from candidacy in elections for members of parliament, senators, and local organization representatives. Furthermore, they will face a lifetime prohibition from assuming any political role.

Depending on the circumstances, their right to vote may be withheld for a duration of up to ten years.

Rangsiman Rome, representing the Move Forward Party as a list MP, noted on Monday how swiftly independent bodies concluded the dissolution proceedings against the MFP.

“I wonder whether they will also work just as fast in the case involving Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun,” he said.

On December 14 last year, public prosecutors initiated legal action in the Criminal Court against Mr. Upakit, alleging his involvement in money laundering and collaboration with a transnational criminal network.

This legal action followed the decision by the Office of the Attorney-General to formally charge Mr. Upakit with money laundering, participating in a transnational criminal network, and aiding or conspiring in illegal drug trafficking activities.

The charges against the senator include associations with Tun Min Latt, a Myanmar national apprehended for drug trafficking and money laundering on September 17, 2022. Senator Upakit has refuted all allegations against him.