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Pheu Thai set to challenge junta order on parties

Jan 10. 2018
Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai
Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai
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By The Nation

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The Pheu Thai Party sets to submit a petition to the Constitutional Court next Monday, asking it to nullify the junta chief’s order to amend the political party law to extend parties’ administrative work periods ahead of the general election, its secretary-general, Phumtham Wechayachai, said on Wednesday.

Phumtham said the party was studying all legal possibilities before moving ahead with the petition. It was also studying what other political parties have done on the issue.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief, in mid-December issued order No 53/2560 to amend the political party law to extend administrative work periods for parties.

Its prime purpose was said to be to help ease time limits for parties to pursue some activities, including updating and registering their membership lists, which would otherwise have ended this month.

However, other conditions were also addressed in the new order that political parties see as being more of a burden than a relief.

Major parties, including Pheu Thai and the Democrats, have cited various reasons that could put them at a disadvantage ahead of the election.

The Pheu Thai Party said in a press briefing on December 27 that, in its view, the order went against the constitution.

The order, it added, was unrighteous and a blatant use of authority without respect to the constitution and the law. It was also seen as aiming to destroy the political party system and the rights and freedom of their members, besides adding an unnecessary burden for party members.

Pheu Thai said the order would pave the way for the establishment of political parties that support the NCPO and its leader so that it could hold on to power. It said it wished to nullify the order and would seek the Constitutional Court’s ruling on it.

On Monday, the Democrat Party held a meeting of its team of lawyers, who decided to file a petition to the Court via the Ombudsman’s Office.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the party leader, said the absence of electronic channels for existing parties to contact their members and the requirement to provide evidence to prove members’ qualifications were clear burdens on political parties and their members, thus violating the 2017 Constitution.

The requirement to report the status of party members within 30 days was an additional burden both on the parties themselves and their members, the former prime minister added.

Abhisit also pointed out that the new charter requires any legal enactment or amendment to be subject to public consultation in line with Article 77, but the junta’s order failed to meet this need.

He added that the junta chief’s absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter, which was used to issue the order, had become obsolete since the interim charter had been discarded following the promulgation of the 2017 Constitution.

In his opinion, the order went against the current charter both in terms of public rights and legitimate procedures.

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