Constitutional Court removes Yingluck from caretaker office, Niwatthamrong acting PM.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday unanimously voted to remove Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine other cabinet members from the caretaker positions. The court found them guilty of abuse of power for transferring a senior government official without justification, adding another sequence in in what critics viewed as a “judicial coup” in Thai politics.   
 
Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, acting Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister was later declared caretaker Prime Minister. 
 
The nine- judge panel declared that the 2011 removal of Thawil Pliensri as Head of the National Security Council to become an advisor to the Prime Minister was unlawful, stating that the transfer was done with vested interests for own families’ benefits rather than the nation.   
 
In September 2011, the government transferred Pol.Gen. Vichien Potphosri, then police commissioner, to replace Thawil. Pol.Gen. Priewpan Damapong, brother-in-law of Yingluck Shinawatra, was then promoted to become the national police chief.
 
Yingluck however on Tuesday testified before the court that Thawil was transferred according to legitimate procedures and with the consent of the Royal Thai Police Commission. She also cited Thawil’s involvement in the 2010 crackdown and the policy on the southern border provinces as the reasons for the transfer. 
 
The Pheu Thai Party announced shortly after the ruling that they would not accept the Constitutional Court’s verdict, and called on the Election Commission to issue as soon as possible the Royal Decree setting the date for elections. 
 
An election date of July 20 has been agreed by the Election Commission and political parties. 
 
The ruling was one of the ongoing series that challenge Yingluck's government who was democratically elected in 2011. It goes in parallel with the anti-government rallies that for the past six months have campaigned to remove the government. They also opposed the February 2 general election, which was held after parliament dissolution in December.   
 
The protesters have called for an 18-month-long period of reform by an unelected government, to “clean up” Thai politics from the “Thaksin regime,” referring to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted by the 2006 coup. 
 
The Constitutional Court in March annulled the results of the election, ruling that since the election could not be held on the same day nationwide due to disruption by the protest groups, the vote was invalid. 
 
The National Anti Corruption Commission is due to decide within a week whether Yingluck will be indicted over mismanagement of the rice pledging scheme. If so, the case will be passed to Senate to consider impeachment, which could lead to a ban from politics for five years.  
 
Another 308 lawmakers and senators are also threatened with impeachment for attempting to amend the constitution to allow senators to be directly directed, a move the charter court ruled unconstitutional. 
 
Assoc. Prof. Pandit Chanrojanakij, political scientist at Ramkhamhaeng University, said the charter court, along with other so-called independent agencies, is exercising more political power than it should in order to undermine political parties allied to Thaksin, opening the chance for an appointed Prime Minister.   
 
But such a situation would be difficult to engineer, as the constitution stipulates that the Prime Minister must come from among Members of Parliament. 
   
“The rulings of the Constitutional Court in recent months have decreased the credibility of the court itself,” said Pandit. “If the law cannot create principles equally used by everyone, violence in the future may be inevitable.”  
 
 
 

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