Dissolution jitters grow in Pheu Thai
Political ban case 'could be last straw'
Pheu Thai members believe the chances of the party being dissolved will become much greater if eight core members accused of defying the regime's political gathering ban are indicted next month.
A Pheu Thai source told the Bangkok Post that members are holding their breath over what will happen on Nov 28, when prosecutors will decide whether to indict the eight members for violating the ban.
The case stems from a party forum held on May 17 to mark the National Council for Peace and Order's four years in power. The session was attended by several party executives.
The regime accused Pheu Thai executives of stage managing the political forum as an act of provocation and filed a complaint with police accusing party executives of defying its ban on political gatherings of more than five people and violating Section 116 of the Criminal Code for incitement.
It is believed defying the regime's ban and the criminal charge could provide the justification to seek Pheu Thai's dissolution in the Constitutional Court.
According to the source, the chances of the party being dissolved will increase if the eight executives are indicted.
The source also said if prosecutors decide to indict on Nov 28, it could also create complications and unease among party members seeking to contest the general election set for February next year.
Politicians are required to be members of a political party for at least 90 days prior to the election date.
With Feb 24 next year as a likely poll date, Nov 26 would be the last day politicians could apply for party membership to be eligible to contest the polls.
"The Nov 28 date set by prosecutors to decide the fate of the eight party executives is making potential candidates nervous about the party's future and the 90-day rule," the source told the Bangkok Post.
The criminal investigation is not the only cause of concern.
There are growing calls for the Election Commission (EC) to look into former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's alleged influence over the party.
The EC is gathering evidence for a possible investigation that could result in dissolution by the Constitutional Court.
In that case, the party has a backup plan.
Pheu Tham is likely to serve as a spare party for those worried about dissolution, according to the source. Led by Sompong Amornwiwat, the party is ready to welcome Pheu Thai members.
On media reports about the possible formation of a new outfit called Thai Raksa Chart to be headed by Paradorn Patanatabut, the source said the forming of a new party is overly time-consuming.
As a result, Pheu Thai executives are talking about taking over an established party instead.
"However, several key members are undaunted by the prospect of the party being disbanded and aim to stay with the party come what may," said the source.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Pheu Thai's planned general meeting to choose a new leader and party executives on Sunday.
Suthin Khlangsaeng, a key Pheu Thai member, said it is expected to be a three-horse race between acting leader Viroj Pao-in, senior party figure Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, and veteran politician Chaturon Chaisang.
Mr Suthin, a veteran politician from Maha Sarakham, insisted the party leadership race is not rigged and party members are free to exercise their judgement.