Srisuwan tees up EC petition over FFP rally

Srisuwan tees up EC petition over FFP rally

Prolific activist cites legal infringements

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit at his rally in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit at his rally in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Activist and prolific petitioner Srisuwan Janya says he will on Wednesday petition the Election Commission (EC) to look into whether Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two party executives broke the law on political parties by holding a political rally on the Skywalk at Pathumwan intersection last Saturday.

The Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution secretary-general cited Section 45 and Section 92 (3) of the law.

Section 45 prohibits parties and party executives from encouraging or supporting anyone to cause a public disturbance or threaten peace and order.

Section 92 (3) allows the EC to forward a dissolution case against a party to the Constitutional Court if there is evidence a party commits actions prohibited by the law, such as in Section 45.

Under the law, party executives who violate Section 45 are also liable to a jail term of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht, and to have their election candidacy registration rights suspended for a period of time as ordered by the court.

Mr Srisuwan said that the organisers of the rally -- Mr Thanathorn, FFP secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and FFP spokeswoman Pannika Wanich -- openly criticised and called for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign.

The rally was intended to mobilise the masses to put pressure on the government, Mr Srisuwan said, adding that the organisers did not seek prior permission to hold the gathering, in violation of the public assembly law.

The rally was called by Mr Thanathorn after the EC decided to ask the Constitutional Court to disband his party for allegedly violating the organic law on political parties for accepting a 191-million-baht loan from him to finance its election campaign.

The Constitutional Court disqualified Mr Thanathorn as an MP last month after ruling he possessed shares in a media company when he registered his candidacy for the March general election.

Commenting on the FFP's rally last Saturday, Suthep Thaugsuban, adviser to the Action Coalition for Thailand, questioned whether the country stands to benefit from the rally called by the FFP.

"If Mr Thanathorn and his FFP colleagues fear that the Constitutional Court may rule against the party and persuade the people to take to the streets to help, this is not fair to the country,'' said Mr Suthep, who led the street protests against the Pheu Thai-led government before it was ousted in the May 2014 military coup.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda expressed disapproval at the so-called Wing Lai Loong ("Run to Oust Uncle", a reference to the prime minister) organised by anti-government activists for Jan 12 next year.

Gen Anupong said that the country already faces many problems, such as with the economy and drought hitting the agricultural sector, so people should use other channels to raise issues, he said.

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