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06BANGKOK2502 ANNULLING THE ELECTIONS? THE COURTS DECIDE TO THINK ABOUT IT

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“62181″,”4/28/2006 11:10″,”06BANGKOK2502″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2425″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

281110Z Apr 06

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002502

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates, SNAP Elections

SUBJECT: ANNULLING THE ELECTIONS? THE COURTS DECIDE TO

THINK ABOUT IT

 

REF: BANGKOK 02425

 

Classified By: Charge d\’Affaires a.i. Alex A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (d

)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The chairs of the three high courts met

April 28 to consider solutions to the political dilemmas

posed by the April elections for members of parliament. They

were responding to the very strong words of the respected

King, who had delivered tough criticisms of the election

during speeches on April 25. The courts today disappointed

some in the opposition, who had hoped that they would annul

the troubled elections on the spot. The courts only pledged

that they would consider the many cases now before them

calling for nullification or other measures, that they would

do so expeditiously, and that they would consult together to

ensure their decisions were consistent. This was immediately

followed by a decision of the Administrative Court suspending

the final round of voting scheduled for Saturday. This

Administrative Court decision tends to support the view of

many here who believe that the courts will eventually annul

the elections, but the way forward is still not clear. If

there are new elections after three or four months, Thaksin

may decide that his \”political break\” is over, and try to

come back as prime minister. If the courts do not annul the

election, this controversy will result in an even further

weakened mandate for this Parliament. END SUMMARY

 

2. (C) In response to the King\’s message on April 25, the

chairs of the three high courts met today to consider

solutions to the problems posed by the parliamentary

elections (reftel). They announced after a meeting on Friday

morning (April 28) that each court will work on the

election-related cases under its jurisdiction, and that they

will resolve them in a speedy fashion, but gave no deadline.

They also said that the courts would consult together in

order to ensure that the cases would be resolved in a

consistent fashion. This announcement disappointed some who

had hoped for a quick decision to annul the vote. The

Administrative Court subsequently issued an injunction

suspending the final round of voting scheduled for Saturday,

pending a decision on whether to annul the entire series of

election in April. The April 28 decision tends to support the

view of many that the courts will ultimately decide to annul

the vote.

 

COURTS AT ODDS

————–

 

3. (C) According to leaked accounts in the press, the

courts held differing views on the problem going in to the

meeting. The Constitutional Court is generally considered to

be lined up with the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. It

reportedly favors opening the new Parliament regardless of

the complaints about the election procedures. (TRT leaders

have also publicly supported that view.) The final round

vote on Saturday would have gotten TRT close to the full

quorum. Because the Electoral Commission (EC) opened up

registration for new candidates again this week for

Saturday\’s election, all 14 races in the remaining districts

were multi-candidate. They should have produced \”winners\”

in each case, even if they took the seat with only a few

thousand votes. This would have left only one unfilled seat,

since one TRT party list candidate has dropped out to join

the monkhood. Until the Administrative Court injunction

today, it might have been plausible to convene the slightly

undersized Parliament, but this choice appear off the menu

for now.

 

4. (C) The Supreme Court appears to support annulling the

elections, but it may have a weaker claim to authority over

the issue. The Administrative Court\’s position is less

clear; it appears to have a stronger claim to jurisdiction

over some of the key issues, and most of the lawsuits filed

against the elections are before this court now. These

lawsuits call for annulling the election and even for

annulling the decree dissolving the previous Parliament,

based on legal and procedural errors. For example, one suit

claims that the Constitution limits the circumstances under

which the Parliament can be dissolved, and that those

conditions were not met. Others claim that the voters\’

constitutionally guaranteed rights to secrecy were violated

by the new position of the voting booths, which allowed the

voters\’ ballots to be seen. Other suits claim that the

registration of new candidates after the first round of

voting was illegal.

 

5. (C) Before the King\’s speech, it appeared unlikely that

any of these suits would actually result in the annulling of

the elections, but now it is possible. In Bangkok, the

so-called \”Bangkok elite\”, the anti-Thaksin press and

opposition seem to think that this will happen. The NSC

Secretary-General told us that the King made it \”very clear\”

 

SIPDIS

that these elections were \”not acceptable.\” (Comment: \”Very

clear\” is stretching it, but it\’s all relative. End comment)

Political party contacts are already talking about the

likelihood of new elections in July or August, to give time

for people to switch parties.

 

LIMBO

—–

 

6. (C) The justices\’ very broad assurances leave a lot of

questions unanswered. There are several possible ways

forward from this point. If the next round of the elections

is not held, it does not appear that that Parliament can

legally convene. The current caretaker government would

presumably continue in power until the lawsuits are resolved,

and the country would be without a House of Representatives

until the courts examine all the cases. Political limbo

would likely continue.

 

WHAT ABOUT THAKSIN?

——————

 

7. (C) The caretaker Prime Minister is traveling abroad and

has made no public comment since the King\’s speech. There is

a lot of speculation about how the courts\’ eventual decision

will affect his pledge to \”take a break\” from politics for

the next session of parliament. Thaksin\’s explanation

emphasized that he was stepping aside in large part out of

respect for the King, to ensure that the country could

concentrate on the upcoming celebrations for his 60th

anniversary in June. If there are new elections in, say,

August, Thaksin conceivably could decide that break time was

over. He could plan to return as PM if TRT won its expected

majority (although the opposition parties would almost

certainly do much better than they did in 2005, particularly

in Bangkok and the central region.)

 

COMMENT — THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US

————————————-

 

8. (C) The repercussions of the King\’s speech are still

playing out. More information about the courts\’ views should

come out in the near future, together with at least a

notional timeline for the courts\’ decisions. If the courts

rule that the elections should not be annulled, there will be

considerable backlash; the controversy will further erode the

legitimacy of a parliament that already suffers from an

extraordinarily weak claim to a mandate. If they annul the

vote, we\’re largely back to where we started in February.

 

ARVIZU

 

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Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:03 am

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