BANGKOK — Police and protesters are converging on the court where the fate of a major political party will be decided Thursday afternoon.
Upward of 600 police officers were deployed to keep order around the Constitutional Court in northern Bangkok where supporters of the Thai Raksa Chart Party are expected to rally nearby. The party itself has urged every side to accept the verdict, whatever it might be.
Thai Raksa Chart, one of the parties aligned with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is facing dissolution on allegations it drew the monarchy into politics by nominating a former princess to run as its candidate for the highest political office. The nomination was blocked by none other than His Majesty the King.
The reading of the verdict is expected to be complete some time after 3pm. The political class and observers are nearly unanimous in expecting a ruling against the party. Five of the nine judges overseeing the case are the same who ruled against other pro-Thaksin politicians in the past.
If found guilty, the party will be disbanded, its candidates disqualified from the election, and its executives barred from politics up to 10 years, tipping the odds in the March 24 poll even further toward the faction loyal to incumbent Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Party leader Preechapol Pongpanich told reporters this morning that Thai Raksa Chart would accept the ruling and urged everyone to do the same.
“Today is an important day for our party. It will decide our future, whether we can continue on our path,” Preechapol said.
He also asked party supporters to stay home instead of showing up in force, citing his fear of possible unrest.
“We want the country to have peace and move forward under the principles of democracy,” the party chairman said.
Redshirt activist Anurak Jeantawanich wrote online that he and others would show their support for the party at the Constitutional Court. Anurak said the rally will be peaceful and stay within the law.
The court has designated an area for the protesters to rally away from the actual building where judges will take the dais. Apart from officers deployed on the grounds, police said several helicopters are standing by in case of emergency.