Thai premier promises to push for constitutional amendments

(dpa) - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej vowed Sunday to push for amendments to the 2007 constitution, describing the military-sponsored charter as a "trap" to kill his People Power Party.
Samak, on his Sunday television talk show, said the 2007 charter had already managed to snair two smaller parties as it laid its trap for the People Power Party (PPP), said the Bangkok Post online news service.
Under Thailand's 2007 constitution, drafted by a military- appointed commission in the aftermath of the coup d'etat on September 19, 2006, a political party may be disbanded if it is proven that one of their executives committed electoral fraud.
On Friday, Thailand's Election Commission ruled that two of the smaller parties in the current PPP-led coalition government, committed fraud in the December 23, 2007, polls and called on the Constitution Court to dissolve them.
The case against the Chart Thai and Machimathipataya parties is expected to take several months.
The ruling People Power Party (PPP), which won 233 out of the 480 contested seats in the December 23 polls, is also in danger of dissolution in the coming months.
The Election Commission earlier this year found PPP deputy leader Yomngyuth Tiyapairat guilty of vote-buying and is awaiting a Supreme Court verdict on his case.
If found guilty by the court, the entire PPP party could be dissolved by the Constitution Court.
Both the 1997 and 2007 constitutions included tough penalities on parties engaged in electoral fraud and vote-buying, which is rife in Thailand's system of money-politics.
Samak, claiming the 2007 charter was specifically designed to undermine the PPP, is seeking a swift amendment to the 2007 constitution to save his coalition government.
The PPP is known to be a supporter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by the September, 2006, coup on charges of corruption and undermining democratic institutions and the monarchy.
Opponents to Thaksin have promised to protest Samak's constitutional amendments, promising more political instability in Thailand during the coming months, observers noted.

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