Published: Fri, November 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Thai court bars opposition party leader from Parliament

Thai court bars opposition party leader from Parliament

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the anti-military Future Forward Party, gestures as he arrive at the Constitutional Court in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

The Constitutional Court subsequently stripped him of his MP status, retroactively effective since May 23, when it first agreed to hear the case against him and suspended his parliamentary role.

Thanathorn has repeatedly insisted the 675,000 shares he held in V-Luck Media were sold to his mother on January 8 - weeks before he registered to run as a candidate. The verdict is part of a drive by the military-aligned government to uproot the opposition party, which maintains popular appeal among Thai voters and pushes for a constitutional overhaul.

There are other cases pending against Thanathorn and his party, and there are widespread fears it will end up being disbanded, with its members banned from political office for several years.

Thanathorn's party has been a thorn in the side of Thailand's conservative establishment, in whose favor the courts have consistently ruled.

His removal means the Election Commission could bring criminal charges that carry serious penalties - including a political ban and imprisonment.

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He has been a strong critic of the powerful army's role in coup-prone Thai politics.

The FFP came a surprise third in March's polls, proving particularly popular with young voters in the election that saw the pro-military party being declared the victor after a disputed ballot count.

The political alliance includes a party loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose populists dominated elections in Thailand for almost two decades even though he was overthrown in a 2006 coup and fled to exile.

The attempts to silence Future Forward were due to its threat to status quo, he added.

Thanathorn's party won 80 out of 500 available seats in the lower house of parliament in the election.

The decree still passed parliament with an overwhelming majority.

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