6 June 2024

The former democrat MP for Thailand’s Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Thepthai Senpong, was retroactively stripped of his parliamentary status, effective from September 16th last year, by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday.

The ruling, which was read by Judge Banchongsak Wongprat, stripped the outspoken politician of his status in accordance with Sections 101 (6), 98 (4) and 96 (2) of the Constitution, after he was found guilty, by the Nakhon Si Thammarat provincial court, of election fraud, sentenced to two years in prison without suspension and stripped of political rights for ten years.

An appeal against that conviction is still pending.

The Constitutional Court had already suspended Thepthai from performing his duty as an MP, pending its decision over his parliamentary status.

A by-election is to be held in Nakhon Si Thammarat, within 45 days of a Royal decree announcing the poll, expected to be held in March.

After being informed of the Charter Court’s ruling, Thepthai said he freely accepts the decision, but pointed out that the case in the Charter Court is different from the election fraud case still pending with the Appeals Court.

He said that, even if he ultimately wins the poll fraud case in the Appeals or the Supreme courts, his parliamentary status has already been stripped and the Constitutional Court’s ruling is final.

This, he pointed out, is a weak point of the Constitution which needs to be addressed.

Thepthai said that he will now become a full-time non-parliamentary politician.