Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thailand: PPP must be allowed to form government

New Delhi, 5 January 2008

The apparent victory of the People Power Party (PPP) in the Thailand’s first ever general elections after the September 2006 bloodless coup was a fitting reply on the face of the military generals that the majority Thais still supported ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and showed that they stood for civilian democratic rule. In the general elections held in December 2007, the PPP emerged as the single largest party by winning 233 seats out of total 480 seats while the military backed Democrat party managed to win only 165 seats. The PPP led by Samak Sundaravej has claimed support of at least three smaller parties to be able to form the government.

But the coup leaders have been reluctant to give up power to the people. Mr Samak Sundaravej alleged that a conspiracy is on to deny the PPP the right to rule the country.

The Election Commission has delayed the declaration of the final result of the general elections as it is investigating alleged vote-buying and other irregularities taken place in 83 Parliamentary seats including 65 won by PPP and 6 won by Democrat party.

The Election Commission has already disqualified three winning PPP candidates on the charges of vote-buying.

The PPP is allied to Thaksin Shinawatra whose party Thai Rak Thai (TRT) was disbanded following the coup in September 2006. Many of the leaders of TRT party joined to form the PPP. Surely, every citizen has the fundamental right to form political associations to engage in the democratic process of the country. Whoever supported Thaksin’s right to return to the country should not be persecuted for their political opinion. Thaksin has the right to face fair trial to dismiss any allegations against him in Thailand.

But on 3 January 2008, the Supreme Court admitted a case filed by a Democrat candidate to decide whether the PPP should be dissolved for being proxy of Mr Thaksin. If the Supreme Court rules against the PPP – any thing can happen in a military ruled country -, it will be the most serious setback for the restoration of democracy in Thailand. The very elections results will be nullified and another election will be imposed on the people while the opposition leaders will be imprisoned. Under such conditions, the Democrat party is sure to form the government, which will be only a crony of the military leaders.

The PPP-led alliance should be allowed to form the government. It is up to the people to decide if this government has the right to rule or throw it out if it is found to be inefficient or corrupt. Let the people of Thailand decide their future.

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