Thai Senate leader suspended over charter charges

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 6:48 am •  Published: March 20, 2014
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BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's anti-graft body indicted the speaker of the Senate on Thursday for alleged wrongdoing when he cut off debate and called a vote on a bill to amend the constitution, officials said.

Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij will be immediately suspended from his post while the Senate decides whether to impeach him, National Anti-Corruption Commissioner Prasart Pongsivapai said. A vote by more than three-fifths of the active senators is needed to impeach him. It is unclear how long the process will take, and Thailand is to hold Senate elections on March 30.

The decision is a blow for the embattled government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who also faces negligence charges over an expensive and highly criticized rice subsidy program. The constitutional amendment was initiated by her ruling party in an attempt to convert the Senate into an all-elected body that it could then control.

About half of the seats in the 150-member Senate are currently appointed. The bill was passed by the ruling party-controlled Parliament but was struck down by the Constitutional Court in November.

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