Former Thaksin officials banned from poll

 

Published: Sunday, 18 November, 2007, 02:20 AM Doha Time

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Election Commission has banned former executives of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s political party from joining campaigns for next month’s elections, an official said yesterday.

Thais cast their ballots on December 23 in the first polls to be held since the military overthrew Thaksin’s government in a bloodless coup in September 2006.
As electioneering kicked off, the Election Commission ruled late Friday that 111 executives with Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party were banned from taking part in the campaigning.

“All former Thai Rak Thai executives cannot appear with candidates or act as political consultants for candidates,” commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond told reporters.

While the junta insists the upcoming polls will restore democracy in the kingdom, analysts have questioned how free and fair the elections can be when about one-third of the country is still under martial law.

Thaksin’s party, which stormed the polls in 2001 and 2005, was dissolved in May in a court ruling that also banned the 111 party executives, including Thaksin, from politics for five years.

Thaksin has lived in London since the coup, and says he will not return to Thailand until democracy is restored. He faces a raft of corruption charges brought by the junta, which has frozen his assets worth $1.9bn.

The former TRT executives also cannot be photographed with candidates or appear on campaign banners and posters, Apichart said.

Early front runners are Thailand’s oldest political outfit, the Democrat Party, and the People Power Party, which was taken over by members of Thaksin’s disbanded party.
Police said about 20,000 people showed up for a rally by the People Power Party at a plaza in central Bangkok on Friday.

The upcoming elections come amid concern over the health of Thailand’s widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who will turn 80 next month.

The world’s longest-reigning monarch was recently hospitalized after experiencing weakness on the right side of his body. Earlier this month, he left hospital as cheering crowds of well-wishers shouted “Long live the king”.–AFP

Ex-Thaksin party executives banned from Thai campaign – Yahoo! News

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