Court to rule on Future Forward dissolution case next month

Court to rule on Future Forward dissolution case next month

Pannika: FFP 'a group with ideals'
Pannika: FFP 'a group with ideals'

The Constitutional Court says it will rule on whether to dissolve the Future Forward Party (FFP) on Jan 21 over allegations that it tried to overthrow the monarchy, in the latest challenge to its existence.

Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and former adviser to the chief ombudsman, petitioned the court early this year seeking the disbandment of the FFP for violating Section 49 of the constitution.

In his petition, Mr Natthaporn accused the FFP, its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and party executives of violating Section 49 which prohibits actions that undermine the monarchy.

He cited FFP actions including the party's regulations and also speeches and lectures made by the senior party figures.

The court previously rejected the FFP's request for a full inquiry into the case.

The court said there was sufficient evidence to rule on the case without holding an inquiry under Section 58 (1) of the court's Procedure Act.

Also, the court yesterday accepted the Election Commission (EC)'s request to consider the disbandment of the FFP for allegedly violating the organic law on political parties for accepting a 191-million-baht loan from Mr Thanathorn to finance its election campaign.

The FFP has 15 days to submit its defence to the court.

The EC cited Section 72 of the law, which prohibits parties and its executives from accepting cash donations, assets or other benefits when they know or suspect the money comes from an illegitimate source.

The EC considers the loan "illegitimate", citing Sections 62 and 66 of the law on political parties, according to the EC sources.

Section 62 provides details about what income parties can legally make for their spending. The section allows parties to conduct fundraisers or receive donations, but it does not include loans as a legitimate financial source. Section 66 of the law also bars any individual from donating money or assets to parties in excess of 10 million baht within a one-year period.

The 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 24 general election.

Meanwhile, FFP members have been advised that if the party is dissolved by the court, they should join other parties and then continue on as before, "as if nothing had changed".

FFP spokeswoman Pannika Wanich said yesterday the party's MPs and members would have to apply for membership of other parties by themselves if the worst happened. The FFP could not do it for them. "We told them they should act as if nothing had happened," Ms Pannika said. "MPs and members who move to other parties should continue to act as if the Future Forward Party still existed.

"We will show to those in power that dissolving the party would achieve nothing, because Future Forward is not only a legal entity but also a gathering of people who come together with ideals."

Her remarks followed the decision by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Tuesday to reject Mr Thanathorn's complaint accusing the seven election commissioners of malfeasance. Mr Thanathorn claimed the commissioners rushed a case in which he was accused of owning shares in a media company before an EC sub-committee finished its probe.

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