Charn faces suspension: Anutin
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Charn faces suspension: Anutin

Interior Ministry to back court decision

Anutin: 'Issue is not being politicised'
Anutin: 'Issue is not being politicised'

Charn Phuangphet, who won the Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) chairman election in Pathum Thani, will be suspended from duty unless the court says otherwise, according to Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Mr Anutin said on Sunday that provincial authorities will follow the legal advice of the Council of State (CoS) which said the suspension is necessary as Mr Charn still faces a trial for malfeasance.

However, if Mr Charn seeks a court ruling on the controversy and the court rules in his favour, concerned parties are obliged to adhere to the court order, he said, referring to media reports that Mr Charn is prepared to ask the court to rule on the matter.

"We'll do what the court says. But without a court order, we'll have to follow the CoS' advice. I believe the governor harbours no ill intention against anyone," said Mr Anutin.

On Saturday, Pathum Thani governor Passakorn Bunyaluck insisted he would comply with the Interior Ministry's instructions and the CoS' legal advice when handling Mr Charn's case. This implies that Mr Charn will be suspended as soon as his victory is endorsed by the Election Commission.

Mr Anutin, who is also the Bhumjaithai Party leader, insisted the issue is not being politicised, saying provincial authorities elsewhere will take the same actions. He also said he has respect for Mr Charn, who is a former member of the Bhumjaithai Party, as well as his political rival Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Toopkrajang.

Mr Charn, a candidate from the Pheu Thai Party, won the local poll on June 30 amid widespread scepticism due to an ongoing malfeasance trial related to his past tenure as PAO chairman over a decade ago.

He faces a trial in the Region 1 Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on a charge regarding the PAO's procurement of relief supplies during the 2011 floods when he was then the PAO chief.

In another development, the Move Forward Party (MFP) is preparing to contest the local elections in at least 20 provinces.

MFP deputy secretary-general Nattapong Ruangpanyawut said it has initiated the candidate selection process in 20 provinces and will unveil its candidate for the PAO chairman in the northern province of Lamphun soon.

He believes that if voter turnout is high the party candidates can defeat those backed by powerful families. He said the MFP did not contest the PAO race in Pathum Thani for technical reasons.

Charn Phuangphet (photo from his Facebook account)

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