A lawmaker says Thailand has lifted a ban on setting up new political parties

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: July 18, 2007

BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand lifted an order that
bans setting up new political parties, paving the way for a general
election that is expected to be held by the end of the year.

The ban had been imposed last September in a coup d’etat that ousted
an elected government of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The National Legislative Assembly, which is the interim parliament
established by the military, voted 149 to four in favor of reversing a
coup order than bans registration of new political parties after the
Council of State — the government’s legal advisory body — reviewed the
language of the proposal, said Prapan Kunmee, a member of the NLA.

The move came more than a month after the government lifted a ban on political party activities that was also imposed Sept. 19.

Former members of Thai Rak Thai party had been lobbying strongly for
the lifting of the ban on their activities since a court ordered the
dissolution of the party on May 30, arguing that it was necessary to
help the restoration of democracy.

Constitutional Tribunal also barred more than 100 of Thai Rak Thai’s
top leaders from public office for five years for electoral law
violations in connection with a general election held in April last
year. The Democrat Party, the country’s second-biggest, also faced
charges but was exonerated.

Thai Rak Thai remains very popular among Thailand’s rural majority, who delivered the party huge electoral victories.

The move would allow Thai Rak Thai’s former members who were not
barred from politics to register a new party and carry out organized
political activities.


Thailand lifts junta’s ban on political party activities

Jul 18, 2007, 10:11

Bangkok – Thai legislators Wednesday lifted a
military ban on political party activities, paving the way for
campaigning to kick off for a general election expected at the end of
the year.

The military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 149 to
4 in favour of scrapping junta announcement Number 15 that forbade
political parties from engaging in public activities in the aftermath
of the September 19, 2006, coup that toppled the government of prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The ban was seen as a means of
outlawing any political protests against the coup makers and keeping a
lid on Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party that controlled the country’s
political system between 2001 to 2006.

On May 30, Thailand’s
constitutional court dissolved the Thai Rak Thai party after finding it
guilty of electoral fraud in the April 2, 2006 polls, and banned 111
senior party members, including Thaksin, from politics for the next
five years.

Although the dissolution effectively removed the
Thai Rak Thai from Thailand’s political picture, the NLA was slow to
lift the junta’s ban on party activities, apparently out of fear that
Thaksin’s party would contest the upcoming election under a new name.

The military junta has promised to hold a general election in November
or December this year, after drafting a new constitution and holding a
referendum on it.

With the referendum planned on August 19,
an election should be held within 90 days, the period when new
political parties can register to be included on the ballot.

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