Thai military election plot charge dismissed

Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:55am EST

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Election Commission dismissed on Wednesday a petition by supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra alleging coup leaders plotted to stop them from winning this month’s general election.

Samak Sundaravej, leader of pro-Thaksin People Power Party, alleged the generals who staged a coup in 2006 had issued instructions for security agencies to conduct a campaign against the party.

“The Election Commission, after deliberation, concluded that no actions had taken place damaging any political party,” commission chairman Apichart Sukhakanont told reporters.

“The Council for National Security document did not authorize any actions, nor approve any budget, for that purpose,” he said, referring to the military body set up after the coup. “It only referred to some plans which were not implemented.”

The People Power Party is expected to emerge from the December 23 election with the most seats but short of a majority because of a new constitution designed to prevent the return of strong, one-party government.

Samak, the pugnacious leader of the party, had brandished a Xeroxed copy of an army paper instructing state agencies back in September to undermine the campaign of Thaksin’s backers.

The Election Commission set up a panel to probe the allegation and concluded the coup leaders might be open to charges of failing to stay neutral in an election as state officials should.

The generals said they had breached no electoral law because the document had been issued before the election was called.

Election Commission chairman Apichart said on Wednesday the final ruling, by a 4-to-1 vote, in favor of the generals was based partly on the fact the CNS was authorized under an interim constitution to maintain national security. 

CNS Secretary General Vinai Phatiyakul told the commission on Tuesday the document was meant to facilitate his job of ensuring Thailand’s return to elected democracy and preventing Thaksin’s return to power.

State prosecutors have filed court cases accusing Thaksin, who has been based in London since his ouster, of corruption and tax evasion.

The party Thaksin led to two landslide election victories was disbanded for electoral fraud and 111 senior members, including him, were banned from politics for five years.

(Reporting by Vithoon Amorn; Editing by Michael Battye)

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