BANGKOK — The Thai Raksa Chart Party appeared headed toward oblivion Thursday after a court with the power to disband political parties agreed to take up the case against it.
The Constitutional Court said representatives of the accused party must report to the tribunal within seven days and state their wish to fight the case. Failure to appear will be considered the same as declaring no contest to the charge, the court said in a statement released Thursday.
Thai Raksa Chart, part of a faction loyal to former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, said it’s confident of proving its innocence in court.
“I cannot see any allegation that we cannot explain,” Surachai Chinchai, the party’s head attorney, told reporters moments after the news broke.
If found guilty, the party will be disbanded and its executives banned from politics for up to 10 years. More than 200 candidates fielded by the party for the March 24 election would also be removed from the race.
Other pro-Thaksin parties have been dissolved by the same court in the past decade, including the governing People’s Power Party on alleged counts of vote buying in 2008. Two parties in the Thaksin-led coalition were also disbanded in the same year.
The complaint was filed to the court Wednesday by the Election Commission, which argued that Thai Raksa Chart broke election law by nominating princess Ubolratana Mahidol as its prime minister candidate last week.
Hours after the nomination became public, His Majesty the King decreed Ubolratana cannot run for office because she’s part of the royal family despite resigning from the nobility in 1972. Ubolratana herself has disputed the king’s interpretation in an Instagram post.
The commission accused the party of drawing the monarchy into politics, which election regulations prohibit.
The first hearing against Thai Raksa Chart is set for Feb. 27.