Blocked from parliament, defiant Thanathorn says Thai junta is ‘desperate’

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks to reporters and supporters Thursday evening in Bangkok. Image: Future Forward Party / Facebook
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks to reporters and supporters Thursday evening in Bangkok. Image: Future Forward Party / Facebook

To a room full of cheering supporters raising three-finger salutes in defiance of military rule, the leader of a progressive party challenging said last night he disagreed with a court decision to disqualify him from joining parliament.

Speaking to reporters hours after the Constitutional Court issued its ruling, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party said it had broken from convention but saved his powder for a strong rebuke of junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

“The sun is setting on the [junta] and its dictatorship. Whether it’s poaching politicians through other parties or trying to keep me out of parliament, it all reflects the dictator’s desperation and is the last gasp of an authoritarian regime,” Thanathorn said, adding that he was not abandoning his pursuit of the premiership.

Thai court blocks junta nemesis from entering parliament

The Constitutional Court, which is vested with the power to disband parties and ban politicians, said Thanathorn could not be seated in the parliament, which is being convened today, because it had accepted a case against him by the Election Commission.

The commission, a nominally independent group that has been criticized as a regime tool for its handling of the March 24 election, forwarded a case against Thanathorn for allegedly owning shares in a media company in violation of election laws.

Thanathorn noted that the court did not follow its own procedure to hear from witnesses and took a short span of days to take up his case, while it has spent well over a year deliberating others.

Criticizing the judiciary is a crime, and Thanathorn focused his fire on the one he intimated is responsible for pressuring the court.

“This is not the time for despair. This is the time to expose the corruption of the dictator,” Thanathorn said, noting that his party still stood to send 79 other members into parliament and had placed third overall with 6.3 million votes.

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