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Ruling party to bring back disqualified premier

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Thailand Politics:
Ruling party to bring back disqualified premier

Thailand’s political turmoil is set to drag on despite the removal of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej who was disqualified in a court found him guilty of violating the constitution by taking pay to host a TV cooking show, according to reports from various agencies.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court's ruling saw Samak’s opponents, the People's Alliance for Democracy, which seized the Government House complex two weeks ago and demanded his resignation, celebrating his departure but Samak only lost his office not his MP status, is likely to make his comeback as the ruling People’s Power Party vowed to put him back in power.

If they did the long-running political turmoil would drag on with the alliance continuing their seizure of the Government House compound.

The 73-year-old Samak was disqualified by the court for hosting a popular TV cooking show, which the court said violated a constitutional prohibition on private employment while in office.

"The defendant has violated Article 267 of the constitution, and his position as prime minister has ended," the Associated Press quoted Chat Chonlaworn, the court's chief justice who headed the nine-judge panel that issued the ruling, as saying.

Samak had no immediate comment on the ruling, and did not appear in public after the verdict. In his defense, he had argued he was not an employee of the company that made the show and only received payment for his transportation and the ingredients used for cooking.

The court said Samak's Cabinet would remain as a caretaker administration until Parliament fills the prime minister's post, reported the agency. That means the senior deputy prime minister,
Somchai Wongsawat, will serve as acting prime minister. He is Thaksin's brother-in-law.

The ruling coalition’s reportedly decided to nominate the disqualified premier again on Friday to lead the government, and Samak had accepted it, local media reported, quoting high ranking
sources in the coalition parties.

Samak is also facing other legal issues: a defamation suit due at the Court of Appeals later this month for which he has been given a two-year jail term by the Criminal Court.

Besides, his party is in danger of being dissolved after a top executive of his People’s Power Party (PPP) was charged by the election commission of buying votes in the December polls and
later found guilty of committing electoral fraud and banned from politics for five years.

Under article 237 of the Thai constitution, the entire party will be dissolved for an act of fraud committed by one member. the Election Commission has recommended the Constitution Court to that his party be dissolved for vote fraud.

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