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Thai opposition party seeks impeachment of foreign minister


July 9, 2008

Thai opposition party seeks impeachment of foreign minister

Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party decided Tuesday to ask the Senate to impeach Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama for unconstitutionally supporting Cambodia's bid to list an ancient temple on the border with Thailand as a World Heritage Site, reported Kyodo news agency.

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said there was substantive evidence showing that Noppadon violated the Constitution, adding that a joint communique signed by Noppadon last month amounted to a treaty requiring prior approval from parliament.

The communique supported Cambodia's application to list the ancient cliff-top temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site. The temple is located in a disputed area on the border.

The party's decision followed a ruling earlier in the day by the Constitutional Court that the June 18 Joint Communique was a treaty and the 2007 Constitution required the government to obtain approval from parliament before signing it.

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Eight of the nine court judges said the communique required such approval.

On June 29, the Administrative Court issued an emergency order to suspend the government's support for Cambodia's application.

The rulings have put pressure on Noppadon and the government led by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej as many Thais and the Democrats are opposed to the government's decision to support Cambodia's application.

Some senators, Democrats and antigovernment activists had asked the two courts to revoke the government's endorsement of the Cambodian bid.

The Democrat Party, which currently holds 164 seats in the 480-member House of Representatives, has collaborated with some senators in scrutinizing the government.

Under the Constitution, at least a quarter of the members of the lower house must request that the Senate consider impeachment of a Cabinet minister. Impeachment also requires approval by no less than three-fifths of the members of the upper house.

If a Cabinet minister is impeached by the Senate, the minister is forced to step down and is prohibited from assuming government office for five years.

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