A court has
ruled that the Thai prime minister, his party and his coalition partners are
banned from politics. As Ron Corben reports from Bangkok, the decision led the
anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy to pledge to allow flights to
resume at Bangkok's international airport.
People's Alliance for Democracy says it will continue some protests at the
international airport, but on Tuesday agreed to allow flights to resume.
However, airport officials say it could be several days before full operations
Court ruling disbands 3 coalition parties
The PAD decision came
hours after a Thai constitutional court disbanded the three leading parties in
the government coalition.
A judge read the order banning the Chart Thai
Party, one of the coalition partners.
The verdicts were announced,
under strict security, after the judges were forced to move to another building
after the constitutional court was surrounded by pro-government
The ruling follows court findings that the main coalition
party, the People Power Party, Chart Thai and another partner, violated election
laws during the December 2007 general elections. Several executives from each
party also were banned from politics for five years.
Ruling removes PM Somchai from office
The verdict removes Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat
from office. A PPP spokesman says party members in parliament not directly
affected by the ruling will join a new party that already has been created.
Deputy Prime Minister Chavarat Charnveerakul has been named interim
prime minister until a new coalition government is formed and a new prime
minister can be selected.
Government supporters say judiciary staged 'silent
Pro-government supporters have accused the judiciary of bias
and staging a "silent coup" against Mr. Somchai and his brother-in-law, former
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The PAD calls the verdict a victory,
following months of long protests, including a three-month siege of the main
government office building.
"Today, the constitution court finally
dissolved the party that acted as a nominee for Thaksin Shinawatra," said
Parnthep Pourpongpan, a PAD spokesman. "We have to consider about the victory.
We totally agree that at least we have to review the level of demonstration now
at least about how we reduce and how much we reduce."
Protests strand tourists
Thailand's tourism industry and air
cargo have been severely disrupted by the airport occupation, leading to
hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income. It is estimated that up to a
quarter of a million tourists remain stranded because of the
Soon after the ruling, the government postponed a summit of
Southeast Asian leaders, which was to start December 13.