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Somsak escapes impeachment


FORMER education minister Somsak Prisanananthakul was spared from a political ban yesterday, as there were not enough votes to have him impeached.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 109 to 82, with three abstentions, for Somsak’s impeachment. 
At least three-fifths of the 220 NLA members, or 132, is required to impeach a politician.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has accused the veteran politician of being unusually wealthy – a euphemism for corruption – over the construction of a Bt16-million mansion in his hometown province of Angthong. 
Somsak, a senior figure from the Chart Pattana Party, thanked the NLA yesterday for “ensuring justice”, and though the votes for him were fewer than those against, he believed that all these voters had used good judgement. 
“We should follow the rules set in the [interim] constitution,” he said.
He said that now this political case against him had come to an end, he would focus on other court cases. “I will proceed with the facts that I have, through the existing legal process,” the veteran politician said.
The NACC had accused Somsak of having become unusually wealthy while serving as education minister in 1999, and the allegation stemmed from the mansion he built in Angthong. 
The anti-graft agency told the NLA that it was not convinced that Somsak had the means to fund the mansion, judging by assets he had declared at the time. 
Somsak, however, has denied any irregularities, saying that while in office he had not approved any large projects and hence allegations that he had abused his authority were unfounded. 

Published : November 13, 2015

By : THE NATION