Facing its Demise, Thai Raksa Chart Demands Fair Trial

Thai Raksa Chart Party executives arrive at party headquarters Tuesday.

Update: Members of the Election Commission delivered a formal recommendation Wednesday afternoon to the Constitutional Court that the Thai Raksa Chart Party be disbanded.

BANGKOK — The party under investigation for allegedly exploiting the monarchy by nominating a former princess said Wednesday the case against it must proceed fairly.

In a statement released to the media, Thai Raksa Chart slammed the Election Commission for launching its investigation without hearing from the accused. The party, part of a faction loyal to former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, could be disbanded if found guilty.

“The Election Commission must exercise its power in accordance with the rule of law under Section 3 of the Constitution,” part of the statement read. “Party disbandment would also affect the rights of the party and its members, who are protected by Section 4 of the Constitution.”

Despite widespread reports the commission had ruled to disband Thai Raksa Chart yesterday afternoon, the commission later released a statement saying it had not yet made a decision. Despite that, commissioners showed up early Wednesday afternoon to the Constitutional Court with a recommendation to disband the party based on a decision reached yesterday.

Thai Raksa Chart argued the the party is entitled by election regulations to state its case before the commission and contest any punishment.

The case is part of ongoing political fallout over the party’s Friday nomination of Ubolratana Mahidol to be its candidate for prime minister in the March 24 election. The nomination was blocked by His Majesty the King, who ruled that Ubolratana was still part of the royal family and therefore cannot run for office.

Ubolratana herself has continued to insist, as recently as Tuesday night, that she had “quit a long time ago.”

While King Vajiralongkorn’s decree had no official legal standing, his edict interpreting the law is considered final by many, including the Election Commission.

Current election laws ban any use or mention of the monarchy for one’s political advantage. If found guilty, 14 executives of Thai Raksa Chart would be barred from politics up to 10 years. More than 200 candidates fielded by the party would also be banned from the race.

And the damages may not be contained to Thai Raksa Chart. Law scholar and former constitution drafter Jade Donavanik warned that the commission could take another step and disband all other pro-Thaksin parties on the grounds that they “colluded” in the election campaign.