Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra ousted over corruption allegations
Thailand is confronting fresh turmoil and uncertainty after a court ordered the country’s prime minister and nine of her top ministers to stand down. It was the third time in seven years the court had forced out a government associated with former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The country’s Constitutional Court found Yingluck Shinawatra, a sister of Mr Thaksin and Thailand’s first woman prime minister, guilty of abusing her position when she ordered the transfer of a civil servant three years ago. The order had immediate effect, but the court said the remainder of her government could remain in place in a caretaker role until elections go ahead on 20 July.
Ms Yingluck, who was replaced as premier by the trade minister, Niwatthamrung Boonsongpaisan, a man considered very loyal to the Pheu Thai party leadership, went on national television to insist she had tried her best.
“We held true to the principles of honesty in running the country, and never acted corruptly,” she said.
The decision by the court, long seen as unsympathetic to the Thaksin family, will only exacerbate the political crisis that has beset Thailand since Mr Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006. Since then, two other administrations led by politicians loyal to him have been scuttled by the same court.
“Basically the court took a decision to sabotage democracy,” Sean Boonpracong, a political analyst and advisor to the government, told The Independent. “She was removed unfairly.”
The court claimed the transfer of a national security advisor in 2011 was carried out improperly and that as a result Ms Yingluck had breached the constitution. “Transferring government officials must be done in accordance with moral principle,” the court said, according to the Associated Press. “Transferring with a hidden agenda is not acceptable.”
Antigovernment protesters celebrate after the Constitutional Court’s ruling (EPA)
The decision by the court follows months of protests by anti-government campaigners who have sought to oust Mr Yingluck and her administration. When she last year agreed to stand down and hold a new election, the main opposition party announced it was boycotting the election, rendering it essentially meaningless. The government has accused the protesters of rejecting democracy.
Ms Yingluck, who was first elected in 2011, and her brother have strong support from large swathes of so-called “Red Shirts” mainly located in Thailand’s north and north east and other rural areas. They also have support among working class people within Bangkok.
Those opposed to the Thaksins include Bangkok’s upper middle-class, elements within the army, farmers from the south of Thailand and part of the establishment that surrounds the Thai royal family. Earlier this year, one of the daughters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej posted photographs of herself on social media that were widely interpreted a sign of her support for the anti-government protests.
“What is interesting about the current [development] is the bloodless, legal nature of the approach - using the legal process to take what the coup couldn’t secure, and the polls couldn’t guarantee,” said Dr Liam McCarthy of Nottingham Trent University.
The unanimous decision by the court, announced a day after Ms Yingluck appeared before it to deny the charges against her, raises the prospect of more turmoil for Thailand, where scores of people have died as a result of political violence, and uncertainty as to whether the election on 20 July will proceed. At least 20 people have been killed since November and hundreds more injured
Supporters of Mr Thaksin and his sister are planning to hold a major rally on Saturday. Meanwhile, the leader of the anti-government protests, Suthep Thaugsuban, brought forward his own demonstration and told his supporters to travel to Bangkok for Friday.
“I think there will be a lot of public anger but it remains to see how the Red Shirts will respond,” said Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Red Shirt who now lives in exile in Britain. “I think there will be more attempts to further undermine democracy.”
Mr Thaksin’s opponents say he is guilty of corruption and that he took decisions that directly helped him and his family. Mr Thaksin is living in exile in Dubai to avoid corruption charges and a plan announced last by the government to introduce an amnesty that would have allowed him to return was the spark for the most recent protests.
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...
£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...
£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...