Thai opposition starts censure debate against PM and ministers

Thai opposition starts censure debate against PM and ministers

ASEAN leaders attend closing ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks at the closing ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BANGKOK: Thailand's opposition began a parliamentary censure debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and five of his cabinet ministers on Monday (Feb 24), just days after the Constitutional Court dissolved a key party in the opposition bloc.

The censure motion is likely to fail, but the public debate represents the fiercest criticism Prayut has faced since he transitioned last year from military ruler to head of an elected government.

Political tension rose in Thailand after the top court dissolved the Future Forward Party, the third largest party in parliament, and banned 16 of its senior members from politics for a breach of law covering political party funding.

The court's decision sparked small protests around the country and was widely condemned the advocates of democracy. More protests were expected this week.

Prayut, who first came to power in a 2014 military coup, is accused by the remaining opposition parties of coming to power through non-democratic means, ineffective administration, abuse of power and corruption.

"Prime Minister Prayut ... allows corruption to thrive and uses the power of his position to benefit himself and others," Sompong Amornvivat, the leader of the Pheu Thai party and the Opposition bloc said during the opening of the censure debate.

The debate will continue until Thursday and a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister and five other cabinet ministers is scheduled to take place on Friday.

The government's opponents have also turn up the heat on the government outside of parliament with the former spokeswoman of the Future Forward Party accusing Prayut's military government of helping the previous Malaysian government to cover up a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal at sovereign fund 1Malaysia Developments Bhd.

Prayut rejected the allegation and threaten to sue the spokeswoman, Pannika Wanich, who was also among the Future Forward leaders barred from politics last Friday.

"I told related agencies to investigate," Prayut told reporters. "If there is anything that can be sued they will do so."

Source: Reuters

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