New legal challenges could see Pheu Thai party dissolved

Pheu Thai is facing legal challenges from two ongoing cases that could each lead to its dissolution following complaints made by a prominent royalist.

The Election Commission (EC) on Monday summoned activist Srisuwan Janya to provide more details over his latest complaint that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is still in control of the party.

According to the political parties law, a political party cannot allow an outsider to dominate its affairs. If the EC finds this accusation has merit, they will take the case to the Constitutional Court and if found guilty, the party could be dissolved.

Srisuwan said Thaksin’s video call to talk with various senior members of the Pheu Thai Party during a birthday party of one of its MPs in October was evidence that the former premier is still wielding a lot of influence within the party.

He said one of Pheu Thai’s MPs asked for permission from Thaksin to allow his ex-wife, Potjaman Damapong, to become the next leader of the party, ahead of the next election.

Srisuwan said such talk about politics shows that the former premier still has an influence on the party’s affairs.

He also said that he would provide new evidence to the EC on Thaksin’s latest comments on the lese-majeste law.

He said the Pheu Thai Party was about to support the amendment of the lese-majeste until Thaksin commented last week that there is nothing wrong with the law.

Srisuwan said Thaksin’s comment had led the party away from its brief commitment to amend the law which is another example of the former premier’s influence on the party.

Apart from this case, Ruengkrai Leekitwattana, a former member of the Pheu Thai Party who is now a member of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party, also filed a complaint to the EC against his former party.

Ruengkrai said on Monday that the appointment of Surapong Suebwonglee, former minister of information and communication technology and a close aide to Thaksin, as the new director of the Pheu Thai Party was against regulations.

He said Surapong was sentenced to jail on two different cases and he had spent time in jail for one of them. Since he was a convict, Surapong should not be eligible for the director position or even a member of the party in the first place, Ruengkrai said.

He said according to the law, a person that spent time in jail is banned from being a member of a political party or held a position within a political party for 10 years. Surapong was released in 2017.

He said he wants the EC to investigate Surapong’s membership status and his eligibility to become the party’s new director. He said that if found guilty of violating the political parties law, the party could be dissolved.

Wissanu Krea-ngam, the deputy prime minister in charge of legal affairs, said on Monday that he was not sure if Surapong was appointed as Pheu Thai’s new director or an adviser to the party. If Surapong is an adviser, which is an added position that holds no real control, then the matter is outside the boundary of the law, he said.

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