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Thai Prosecutors Recommend Dissolving Country's Two Largest Political Parties


In Thailand, public prosecutors have recommended the disbanding of the country's two largest parties for irregularities committed in last April's elections. The election, which was boycotted by the opposition, was annulled last month.

A committee of the Thai attorney-general's office unanimously recommended Tuesday that a total of five political parties be dissolved for election law violations. The parties include Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's ruling Thai Rak Thai party, the opposition Democrat party, and three smaller parties.

Surapong Suebwonglee, the Thai government spokesman and a senior Thai Rak Thai official, reacted by saying that many more steps must be taken before the fate of the parties is decided.

He says the prosecutors must submit the cases to the attorney-general. If he decides to proceed, the cases then go to the Constitutional Court. He says the party will accept the conclusion of the court.

According to Thai law, a candidate running unopposed must win at least 20 percent of the eligible vote in order to be declared the winner. In the April elections, several dozen Thai Rak Thai candidates failed to reach the required minimum because of a boycott by the Democrat Party and two other opposition parties.

The Thai Election Commission last month found that senior leaders of Mr. Thaksin's party bribed two small parties to run in certain districts where Thai Rak Thai was unopposed. This was the primary basis for the recommendation that Thai Rak Thai be dissolved.

The recommendation that the Democrat party be dissolved was based on that party's hindering the election by urging voters to boycott or cast abstention ballots.

The Constitutional Court could disband the parties and ban their leaders from party leadership positions for five years. But they could still run as individual candidates under another party's banner.

Mr. Thaksin called the elections three years early after months of mass protests accusing his government of corruption and abuse of office, which he denies. After the vote, he took a leave of absence in an effort to defuse the political confrontation, but returned to political life last month after the Election Commission called for new elections in October.

However, the fate of the October elections is also in doubt because of the large number of legal cases currently under examination in the courts.