Thai Opposition Looks to 2011 Elections After Court Victory
Thai Opposition Looks to 2011 Elections After Court Victory

A court in Thailand has dismissed a second legal case against the ruling party, which had threatened to dissolve the government.

Thailand's Constitutional Court Thursday said that proper procedures had not been followed in the case against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democrat Party.

The Democrats were accused of failing to disclose an $8 million campaign donation from a cement company in 2005, a charge the party denied.

Had the party been found guilty, Democrat leaders, including the prime minister, could have been banned from politics for up to five years. That would have forced the formation of a new government.

One of the seven judges on the panel read the ruling on national television.

He says there is no authority to file the case according to section 95 of the Constitution Act. Therefore, he says it is unlawful to file the case. He adds the judges voted four in favor and three against to have the case dismissed.

It was the second time in two weeks that the Democrat Party, Thailand's oldest, faced dissolution but had the case thrown out by the court on a legal technicality.

The Election Commission accused the party of misusing election funds, but that charge was dismissed last month because it was not filed within a 15-day deadline.

Thursday's ruling will only add to opposition accusations that the courts and the government use double standards. Many in the opposition say the government is backed by elites who conspired to remove elected opposition leaders.

Many in the opposition support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was twice elected before the military ousted him in 2006. He now lives in exile to avoid a sentence for corruption.

Two of Mr. Thaksin's successors, both his allies, were removed by controversial court orders, after anti-government demonstrations by protesters wearing yellow who claimed to support democracy and the monarchy.

The so-called yellow shirts surrounded government offices for three months and occupied Bangkok's airports to force a change of government.

They have yet to be prosecuted.

Thousands of their opponents, known as the red shirts, mimicked those tactics earlier this year, shutting down parts of Bangkok for two months to demand new elections.

The government ordered the military to end the occupation, leading to clashes with armed protesters that left 90 people dead, most of them civilians.

Scores of red shirts were arrested and charged with crimes. Several of their leaders were charged with terrorism and if convicted could be sentenced to death.