News / Asia

Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra Ousted by Court

Anti-government protesters marching in the city center celebrate shortly after a Thai court delivered its verdict on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in Bangkok, May 7, 2014.
Anti-government protesters marching in the city center celebrate shortly after a Thai court delivered its verdict on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in Bangkok, May 7, 2014.
Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled the country's caretaker prime minister and some of her Cabinet must step down for abuse of power. This comes after months of political deadlock, and renews concerns of the possibility of violence between supporters and opponents of the government.
 
The Constitutional Court ruled Yingluck Shinawatra and members of her Cabinet abused their authority when they transferred a national security council official, which paved the way for her relative to become the national police chief.  
 
Presiding judge Charoon Intachan read the final part of the lengthy verdict which removed the prime minister.  
 
The judge says that in accordance with the constitution the premiership is now declared vacant. He adds that all nine surviving members of the Cabinet, when the unlawful personnel transfer was made in 2011,  must also step down.  
 
The remaining members of the Cabinet quickly selected from among themselves the interim commerce minister, Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, as the new caretaker prime minister.
 
Thanking supporters

Shortly after that announcement, Yingluck made a televised speech thanking the people for their trust and support in difficult times.
 
The outgoing caretaker prime minister says despite the court ruling she did not violate the law.
 
Her governing Pheu Thai Party calls the Constitutional Court's verdict a conspiracy to try to destroy democracy.
 
A former foreign minister Nappadon Pattama, who is a supporter of the current government, contends the court's decision is unconstitutional, but says it is likely to be accepted.

"The prime minister has done nothing wrong. But the court ruled against the prime minister. What I am surprised at is the court didn't disqualify the whole Cabinet. This is good,"  said Nappadon Pattama.
 
Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak agrees that leaving in place 25 members of the Cabinet provides some short-term stability.
 
"I am cautiously optimistic while I've been pessimistic all along. This time the Constitutional Court did not go all the way. They went almost all the way. They got rid of Yingluck, got rid of the Cabinet [members] from three years ago but they left some Cabinet members behind to succeed Yingluck and to run a caretaker administration. This means we have a chance to get to the election day," he said.
 
Third PM to be removed by courts

This is the third time Thailand’s courts have removed a prime minister since 2006. All three represented parties backed by Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s elder brother, who remains the main backer of the Pheu Thai party.  
 
Thailand’s election commission has called for a new nationwide ballot on July 20th. The government has rejected a proposal by an opposition leader to delay the vote six months to put in place political and electoral reforms, leaving the election date in doubt.
 
The head of the group of protesters who occupied parts of Bangkok for months says an unelected people's council should run the country for an indefinite period to put in place reforms that prevent election rigging.  
 
Government supporters have contended the real reason the Democrats and allied groups oppose elections is because they know the majority of the electorate will not vote for them.
 
The judicial ouster of the prime minister angers long-time core supporters of the Shinawatra family. Tens of thousands of so-called Red Shirts, popular among the rural population in the northern part of the country, are expected to begin moving towards the capital for a mass rally here Saturday, according to protest organizers.
 
Fear of more clashes

That could lead to clashes on the streets with the yellow shirts and other anti-government elements.

Former foreign minister Nappadon is hopeful that the red shirts will not provoke any violence.
 
"We have to prevent any possible clash with our opponents. Otherwise the clash or the violence would be cited as an excuse to stage a military coup or any uncalled-for military intervention," he said.
 
Since Thailand's 1932 revolution, nine prime ministers have been kicked out by military coups. Including Yingluck, three have been forced to step down through judicial rulings.

Yingluck was Thailand's first female PM

A former businesswoman, Yingluck had relatively little political experience when she unexpectedly came to power in July 2011.

The 46-year-old dealt with constant accusations that she was the puppet of her brother, ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 military coup.

 
FILE - Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Constitution court in Bangkok, May 6, 2014.FILE - Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Constitution court in Bangkok, May 6, 2014.
x
FILE - Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Constitution court in Bangkok, May 6, 2014.
FILE - Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Constitution court in Bangkok, May 6, 2014.
Yingluck Shinawatra denied the charges, keeping a public distance from her brother while at the same time attempting to reach out to opponents who loathed his lingering influence.

She was able to survive months of protests urging her to step down. But on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ruled she abused her power by reassigning a national security chief in 2011.

She also faces a separate legal challenge by Thailand's Anti-Corruption Commission over a government rice subsidy program that her critics say was corrupt and meant to win votes. If found guilty, she could face a five-year ban from politics.

She and her brother remain popular in many areas of the country, thanks to economic policies, such as the rice subsidy program, that favor the country's rural poor.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: venze from: Malaysia
May 07, 2014 8:59 PM
With such court's ruling, there will be more chaos in Bangkok. Yingluck's massive supporters will not sit idle. Be prepared for worse scenario.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid