Thai court to decide fate of Thanathorn's Future Forward Party

Thai court to decide fate of Thanathorn's Future Forward Party

Thailand's constitutional courtroom on Friday purchased the well known opposition Long run Ahead Social gathering dissolved, declaring that it violated election legislation by accepting a loan from its leader, charismatic 41-yr-aged Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Thai students were expected to stage a protest Saturday against a court's decision that dissolved the country's second largest opposition party, less than a year after an election to end direct military rule.

Thailand's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, took power in a military coup in 2014.

Mr Thanathorn, a wealthy young businessman who is critical of the government, established the party in 2018 to contest last year's election.

The court said that the party broke the law by taking a 191.2 million baht ($6.08 million) loan from Thanathorn.

Including him, there are a total of 16 party executives now banned from politics for 10 years.

"While the United States does not favor or support any particular political party in Thailand, more than six million voters chose the Future Forward Party in the March 24 elections".

Laws related to political parties in Thailand say that no one "may donate cash, assets or other benefits worth more than 10 million baht ($315,000) to a political party".

The loan was first mentioned by Thanathorn himself, who admitted at a forum held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in March 2019 that he handed the money to his newly founded party.

Some of these Members of Parliament have since left the party or vacated their seats.

It also noted that the dissolution took place just three days before a no-confidence debate, thus undermining checks and balances in Parliament.

She said it was now up to the FFP MPs of the dissolved party what parties they might want to join within the 30-day deadline stipulated by the law.

The party's dissolution was "a knockout blow for Thailand's teetering efforts to restore democratic rule after a military dictatorship", Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

By banning Future Forward's executives from politics for the next decade, Friday's court order will boost the ruling bloc's position in the lower house, where it has been clinging to a razor-thin majority since the election.

The coups and a series of rulings by the courts were widely seen as an attempt to shore up the old ruling class, led by a royalist-military alliance. In the race for prime minister in 2019, Thanathorn had in fact challenged Prayuth, a previous standard and leader of the 2014 coup.

Thai courts appeared to consistently tilt against Thaksin's supporters and others opposed to the status quo.

Thailand's Election Commission (EC) had filed a request to dissolve FFP in December a year ago.

It should also be noted in this context that the constitution did pass a referendum and served as the guiding legal principle for all political parties that participated in the previous general election.

It is unclear whether the EC will allow party members to replace them.

"The disbandment lacks legitimacy both in terms of content and process.so much so that it can hardly be called a justice process", it said.

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