Thai Constitutional Court considers nullifying April 2 election

Thailand's Constitutional Court, spurred by rare criticism from the country's influential monarch, deliberated Monday whether to annul last month's election which critics claim was unconstitutional and undemocratic.

The court said it would consider three complaints, starting with one lodged by university professors but it was not certain whether a ruling could be issued Monday, said court spokesman Paiboon Warahapaithoon.

The leader of the group of academics, Bancherd Singkanethi, argues that the April 2 election and an April 23 by-election were framed in the form of a referendum to endorse the regime of outgoing Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra rather than a true election as specified by the Thai Constitution.

Following months of street protests against him, Thaksin dissolved Parliament and called the snap election which was boycotted by the main opposition parties, resulting in the election of fewer than the full 500 candidates required for the lower house to convene.

The academics' complaint includes several charges, including that the election took place fewer than 45 days after the dissolution of Parliament, a timeframe required by the constitution. The complaint also claims that ballot booths were positioned a way that did not guarantee voters privacy.

Paiboon said the court accepted the complaint because it felt there were "grounds in the charges that election law had been violated."

He said the court asked the Election Commission on Monday to answer to the charges and the body was given three days to respond in writing.

Last week, King Bhumibol Adulaydej stepped into the political arena, telling the country's top courts to find a way out of the political crisis and criticizing as undemocratic an election in which single candidates ran in many constituencies.

Thaksin, who has been keeping a low domestic profile recently, returned to Thailand on Sunday after a private, four-country tour. His supporters, meanwhile, said he might consider running again for prime minister if the election is nullified and a fresh ballot called.

Such a move would likely spark anger among Thaksin's opponents who led weeks of massive demonstrations that eventually forced him to resign. They accuse the telecoms-tycoon-turned-politician of abuse of power and corruption, reports the AP.

I.L.