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Democracy Update 3/4/13

IMG_2149During Wednesday’s press conference, UDD co-leaders discussed obstacles to the ongoing efforts to amend the post-coup Constitution of 2007 as well as a recent ruling by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) regarding Jatuporn Prompan’s disqualification from parliament in 2011. They also announced a commemorative rally that is being held in Bangkok on April 10th in honor of those who died during the brutal and illegal military crackdown of Red Shirt protests in 2010.

The UDD supports the Pheu Thai government’s efforts to amend the post-coup Constitution, but pro-coup forces have continuously tried, and often succeeded, to thwart the amendment process. In one such recent effort, opposition Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn has petitioned the Constitutional Court to issue an injunction against the parliamentary proceedings and dissolve the Pheu Thai party.

While the Court rejected Senator Somchai’s appeal for an injunction, it has accepted his petition to consider the constitutionality of the proposed constitutional amendments, in particular alterations to Sections 68 and 237. The UDD co-leaders expressed frustration that the amendment process is facing obstacles every step of the way.

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Uncertain Times Ahead- UDD Leaders

At the UDD’s weekly press conference on Wednesday, UDD leaders called on Red Shirts to be prepared for a precarious month of April. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is set to announce its decision on an investigation of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s financial assets which could result in the Pheu Thai leader’s disqualification as a member of parliament.

UDD spokesperson Tanawut Wichaidit said,

The NACC has started to make its move against the government. We need to stay alert because the political situation can change quickly.

UDD co-leader Dr Weng Tojirakarn reiterated that Red Shirts need to be ready to defend a democratically elected government against so-called “independent agencies” that were created by the 2006 coup-makers,

The anti-democratic forces in this country will try to bring down the government in April. We need a strong show of strength so that the amaat knows we are watching them.

Red Shirts will gather in numbers on April 10th for the third anniversary of the start of the brutal military crackdown that shook Bangkok in 2010. While the gathering, set to be held at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, will express solidarity with the Pheu Thai administration, the UDD will also continue to pressure the government to fight on behalf of Thailand’s political prisoners, push forward with constitutional reform, and allow the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary investigation on the events of spring 2010.

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Pitak Siam and the NACC- UDD Lawyer Assesses Risk of Coup

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam posted an article on his blog outlining the threat of a coup by the Thai elites in light of this weekend’s rally by right-wing group Pitak Siam. Particular attention should be paid to paragraph discussing the powers of the Senate and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to impeach the Prime Minister and other members of parliament:

As of its latest proclamation, the anti-democracy movement Pitak Siam stated that the goal of its November 24 demonstration in Bangkok is to force the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. Even Pitak Siam knows that a government elected by large margins less than eighteen months ago will not find a demonstration of (at best) a few tens of thousands of people a compelling enough reason to resign, especially given its robust majority in parliament and strong support in opinion polls. The idea that a small minority should trump the will of the majority of the electorate does not wash in twenty-first century Thailand. This is not your great-grandfather’s old Siam.

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