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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs