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06BANGKOK3481 ATTORNEY GENERAL CONSIDERS POSSIBLE DISBANDING OF THAI RAK THAI

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“67224″,”6/8/2006 11:28″,”06BANGKOK3481″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003481

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Political Parties, Thai Political Updates, TRT – Thai Rak Thai

SUBJECT: ATTORNEY GENERAL CONSIDERS POSSIBLE DISBANDING OF

THAI RAK THAI

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Election Commission has forwarded the

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) election fraud case to the Office of the

Attorney General (OAG). The EC did not include a

recommendation, advising whether the party should be

disbanded under the terms of the Political Parties Act, as it

was supposed to. The OAG will meet on June 16 to consider

whether to return the case to the EC and require it to give a

recommendation, or investigate the case itself and then

forward its findings to the Constitutional Court for

decision. Meanwhile, the draft schedule for the new round of

elections, approved by the government but not yet by the

King, would have the vote on October 15, with candidate

registration ending by September 12. Since candidates must

be members of their party for 90 days before registering,

time is getting short indeed for TRT members considering

jumping ship. If the Court decides to disband the party, we

anticipate that efforts will be made to find an accommodation

to permit TRT members not implicated in the electoral fraud

to get back into the race. The longer it takes to reach a

decision, however, the more complicated it will be to find a

way to do that. End summary.

 

FRAUD WILL OUT

————–

 

2. (SBU) According to the deputy spokesman at the Office of

the Attorney General (OAG), the Election Commission (EC) has

forwarded to them a case concerning the possible disbanding

of the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. The petition is

based on the report of an EC subcommittee, which found merit

in the accusations against TRT brought by the Democrat Party.

The DP alleged that TRT paid off several small parties to

get them to run candidates in the April election, and

assisted them in falsifying documents to qualify their

candidates. (This enabled TRT to avoid the mandatory 20

percent minimum vote requirement for candidates running

unopposed.) The EC subcommittee report had been completed on

May 8 and details were leaked and widely reported in the

press shortly thereafter, making it difficult for the EC to

sit on the case any longer. According to the leaked

accounts, the report, prepared by a respected Supreme Court

judge, recommended that TRT be dissolved. It reportedly

found that the extent of the electoral fraud and the amounts

of money involved meant that the actions were not the

initiative of a single party member (the evidence fingers

Defense Minister Thammarak), but were the responsibility of

the party itself. The subcommission reportedly recommended

that the party leadership, including PM Thaksin, be held

accountable. (The law envisions banning from political office

for up to five years as the penalty in such cases.)

 

PASSING THE BUCK

—————-

 

3. (C) The EC has also forwarded petitions on two of the

microparties involved in the scandal. In the case of these

two, the EC recommended that they be disbanded due to their

involvement in the election fraud. In the case of TRT,

however, the EC (considered a bulwark of support for TRT)

forwarded the case to the Attorney General without including

a recommendation.

 

4. (SBU) The Attorney General has two choices. It can

return the case to the EC, and request that the EC give its

recommendation. The spokesman told us that this option could

involve a joint OAG/EC committee to consider the case, or the

EC could be required to reconsider the case itself and then

return the case to the OAG with a recommendation. The

current groundswell of popular opposition to the Election

Commissioners, who have been directly attacked by the courts

and repeatedly pressured to resign, argues against seeking

their opinion. Alternatively, the OAG could decide to the

accept the case as received, and conduct its own assessment.

This would leave the OAG holding the bag for a potentially

fatal attack on TRT, which may be a little much for their

nerves. Neither option is very attractive for the OAG; the

deputy spokesman said that the OAG would meet on June 16 to

consider its decision. In either case, the OAG is tasked

with investigating the case and forwarding the result to the

Constitutional Court for a ruling. The spokesman could not

provide any useful estimate on how long this whole process

could take.

 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

——————–

 

5. (C) The issue of timing is very important for TRT

members. The Cabinet has approved a draft royal decree,

which would set the election date for October 15. Candidate

registration for party list candidates would be September

5-7, and for constituency candidates September 8-12, as the

decree is currently written. Candidates must be members of

their party for 90 days before they register, which means the

very last deadline for switching parties. according to this

timetable, would be early next week; it is already too late

to qualify for the party list of a new party. According to

the current plan, the decree will be forwarded to the King

for his signature in August. (Once the decree is issued, the

election must be held within 60 days, so it cannot be issued

sooner).

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) The EC\’s decision to forward the TRT case to the

Attorney General is more bad news for TRT, but we can\’t start

planning the funeral yet. It is technically possible that

the OAG and the Court could take weeks to decide the TRT

case, then dissolve the party, and leave TRT members with

insufficient time to re-register with another party and

qualify to run in October. However, we think that this is

not a very likely outcome. If TRT is dissolved, we would

anticipate there would be an effort to shift the date of

candidate registration, if not the election date, to allow

TRT members to get back in the game. However, the longer the

EC, the OAG and the Courts shuffle the case around, the

harder it will be to accommodate all these considerations –

the need to have a new government soon, the need to have a

credible process, and the need to provide an avenue for many

of TRT\’s leading political figures, who are not implicated in

the election fraud, to contest in the new elections. End

comment.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

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