Impeachment recommended for 250 ex-lawmakers in Thailand

AP News
Posted: Mar 12, 2015 9:54 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — 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.