Tuesday, 26 February 2008

EC resolves to disqualify House speaker Yongyuth

BANGKOK, Feb 26 (TNA) – Thailand's Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday resolved to disqualify House Speaker and President of Parliament Yongyuth Tiyapairaj for alleged election fraud in his electoral constituency in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

The disqualification of Mr. Yongyuth could also lead to the dissolution of the ruling party.

Speaking after the meeting of EC, Somchai Chuengprasert, commissioner in charge of investigations, said the five-member commission ruled with a majority vote of 3 to 2 to petition the Supreme Court's Election Frauds Department to nullify Mr. Yongyuth's victory and remove his election right for alleged election vote-rigging.

He said the petition would be submitted together with the EC's comments to the department within two weeks.

Should the court accept the petition, Mr. Yongyuth's duty as House Speaker and President of Parliament must be immediately suspended although he would be allowed to retain his seat pending a verdict.

If the court upholds the EC's decision to disqualify him, he would lose his parliamentary seat and face a five-year ban from the electoral process, he said.

EC secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaigarn said the commission also resolved to give a yellow card to Mr. Yongyuth's younger sister La-ong Tiyaparaj, who is a member of parliament of the ruling Palang Prachon Party for the connected election violation in her constituency in Chiang Rai. The decision would lead to a by-election in the constituency.

Since Mr. Yongyuth is concurrently a PPP executive, the EC is obliged to form an investigative committee to see whether his alleged violations were linked to the party.

Should the linkage be suspected, the EC must petition the Constitution Court to rule whether the party should be dissolved. (TNA)-E005