AFP: Thai election commission probes Thaksin role

 AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand’s election commission said Sunday it was investigating whether ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra broke campaign laws for December 23 parliamentary polls in which he is banned from standing.

The commission’s secretary-general Sutthiphon Thaveechaiyakarn said it was trying to determine whether he had called on people to vote for the party that replaced his dissolved political movement.

“We are investigating and will decide this week what kind of action to take,” Sutthiphon said.

Thailand’s general elections are the first since the military ousted Thaksin in a bloodless coup in September 2006.

Thaksin, who has been living in London in exile since the coup, was banned from politics for five years under a ruling by a military-appointed court in May 2007.

The same court dissolved his party for election fraud, but allies quickly launched the People Power Party (PPP) to contest the December elections.

Apart from the five-year ban, the commission also prohibits Thaksin and 110 members of his former party from campaigning for the upcoming polls.

Sutthiphon said the commission learnt that video CDs containing Thaksin’s political messages has been distributed to voters in the country’s northeast provinces, one of his strongholds.

Sutthiphon declined to give details about the CDs, but Thai-language daily Mathichon said Thaksin was urging people to vote for the PPP.

“Choose the People Power Party. It will bring happiness,” he was quoted by the paper as saying in the video. According to local reports, more than five million copies of the CDs were given to voters.

Noppadon Pattama, a lawyer for Thaksin and secretary-general for the People Power Party, dismissed the investigation.

“We have no involvement in the CDs. The party has nothing to do with them,” Noppadon told AFP.

The PPP and the Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest political movement, are front runners for the December polls.

AFP: Thai election commission probes Thaksin role

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