Democrat MP Thepthai disqualified, new poll to be held

Democrat MP Thepthai disqualified, new poll to be held

Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Thepthai Senpong was disqualified by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Thepthai Senpong was disqualified by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Democrat MP Thepthai Senpong has been disqualified in a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court over poll fraud in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The court ruling announced on Wednesday immediately terminated Mr Thepthai's MP status after he and his brother, Manote, were given a two-year jail term and a 10-year ban from politics for vote-buying in the election for provincial administration organisation chairman in the southern province in 2014.

The provincial court made the ruling in August last year but Mr Thepthai fought to keep his MP status on the grounds that the case was not over.

He and his brother petitioned the Appeal Court while out on bail. Mr Thepthai has previously said he would continue the fight to the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Court dismissed his argument, saying that the ban from politics ordered by the Nakhon Si Thammarat court meant he could not run in an election.

The Appeal Court has set March 25 this year to rule on the case, according to the Democrat Party.

Mr Thepthai's last parliamentary duty was on Wednesday when he voted for an amendment bill to remove kratom from the narcotics list. He was a member of the committee vetting the bill.

Mr Thepthai and the party said they respected the decision of the Constitutional Court.

He ran for constituency 3 in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

A source said the Election Commission is expected to announce a by-election on March 7, with the application dates for candidates from Feb 11-15.

Party spokesman Rames Rattanachaweng said the party will field a candidate to replace Mr Thepthai and expected to retain the seat. Party executive members will hold talks on Thursday to search for a contender.

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