Thai Court to Rule on PM, Opposition Party Cases by September

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s Constitutional Court is expected to hand down verdicts before September on two high-profile cases — one seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and the other to dissolve opposition party Move Forward.

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The cases will be reviewed carefully and the nine-member court will seek to clear all doubts before meeting to reach the verdicts, Nakharin Mektrairat, the president of the court, said in a seminar on Monday. The court won’t be issuing any rulings on the two cases this week, he added.

“We will rule before September,” Nakharin told reporters after he was asked about the schedule in deciding the two politically sensitive cases.

READ: Thailand Faces Fresh Political Turmoil With Markets at Risk

Nakharin’s comments come as the top court is set to resume deliberations on Wednesday on a case against Move Forward, which won the largest number of parliamentary seats in last year’s election. The Election Commission accused the party of violating election rules over its pledge to amend the country’s royal defamation law and sought its disbandment.

READ: Why Royal Insult Law Is a Faultline in Thai Politics: QuickTake

Next week, the court is set to reconvene to resume discussions on another case that could end Srettha’s premiership on alleged ethical violations. While the outcomes are far from clear, the two cases could lead to an unraveling of the coalition government and heighten risks of street protests by supporters of the opposition party.

The fresh political turmoil is happening against a backdrop of stock-market losses, baht weakness and capital outflows by investors already spooked by a spat between the government and the central bank over monetary policy. Foreign funds have pulled more than $3 billion from local markets this year, sending the nation’s benchmark SET Index to a four-year low. It’s one of the worst performers among bourses tracked by Bloomberg in the past year.

In another high-profile legal case, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who effectively leads Srettha’s ruling Pheu Thai Party, will need to attend a proceeding at a criminal court next month after he was formally indicted for royal defamation over remarks made nearly a decade ago.

READ: Thai Royalists Make Risky Bet in Fresh Showdown With Thaksin

Thaksin, who fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid corruption charges, returned to the country in the wake of last year’s general election in a move that was seen as part of a deal with the pro-military and royalist establishment that wanted to keep out the reformist Move Forward.

This poses a fresh jail risk for Thaksin, who is currently on parole after being sentenced in corruption cases and due to walk free after his royally commuted jail term ends in August.

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