Suthep makes high-stakes claims
Key Democrat discloses evidence alleging TRT members tried to buy an opposition, tells Election Commission the party should be dissolved
Suthep Thaugsuban, the Democrat Party secretary-general, appeared quite confident yesterday when he produced what he claimed was damning evidence against the Thai Rak Thai Party.
He has accused certain key figures in the ruling party of hiring small, little-known political parties to take part in the April 2 general election, which the three major political parties in the opposition camp are boycotting.
The veteran politician yesterday released a video statement by a party-list candidate from the Thai Ground Party, who explained how Thai Rak Thai paid for her small party to run in the election.
The candidate identified two key Thai Rak Thai figures she said were behind the bid to "buy an opposition" for the House of Representatives, which political observers expect to be dominated by Thai Rak Thai MPs.
Suthep is well aware that these claims against the ruling party are a high stakes game for his 60-year-old Democrat Party - as well as the younger but more powerful Thai Rak Thai Party.
In the Organic Act on Political Parties of BE 2541 (1998), a political party can be dissolved by order of the Constitution Court for, among other acts, being involved in electoral fraud or making false allegations against another party.
Suthep yesterday presented to Election Commission (EC) chairman Vasana Puemlarp what he said was evidence to prove his claim about the governing party.
"You have to look into this matter urgently. And if you find [Thai Rak Thai] to be involved, you should seek its dissolution," Suthep told Vasana.
"I'm not the damaged party, but our democracy will be affected. The EC should take care of this issue.
"It's a great challenge for the agency," he said.
The Democrat on Saturday identified three other senior Thai Rak Thai figures it alleges are responsible for a similar scheme involving another small, little-known political party.
Suthep also produced three members from the small party, who claimed to have knowledge about the scheme.
All have rejected Suthep's allegations as groundless. Some junior figures in the ruling party say Suthep is "crying wolf" in a bid to discredit them.
Suthep has never been called Mr Clean, but judging from his apparent confidence, it appears there could be something to this controversy.
But he will have to prove that he is not involved in a dirty stunt aimed at eliminating the Thai Rak Thai or tainting the credibility of April 2 election.
If his allegations are true, the Thai Rak Thai figures he has been pointing his finger at, and possibly the ruling party itself, will be in big trouble.
But if the allegations are found to be false, it is him and perhaps the Democrat Party that will land in hot water.
The ruling party, too, must be aware that the stakes are enormously high.
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