Published: 15:41, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 17:00, April 3, 2024
Thai court accepts case seeking to dissolve Move Forward Party
By Reuters

In this file photo taken on July 22, 2023, Move Forward Party supporters wait for party leader and former prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat to speak during a rally on Jomtien Beach in Pattaya, Thailand. (PHOTO / AFP)

BANGKOK - Thailand's Constitutional Court on Wednesday accepted a case seeking the dissolution of the opposition Move Forward Party, in another blow for a popular anti-establishment movement pushing major institutional reforms in the country.

The court agreed to take on a complaint filed by the election commission asking to disband Move Forward for its controversial campaign to reform a law that shields the powerful monarchy from criticism, under which at least 260 people have been prosecuted in the past few years.

The case follows a January ruling by the same court that found Move Forward's plan to amend the law was unconstitutional and tantamount to an attempt to overthrow the system of government with the king as head of state.

If the court rules against Move Forward, it faces dissolution and lengthy political bans for its leadership, the same fate suffered by predecessor, Future Forward, after it was dissolved in 2020 over a campaign funding violation

Move Forward has denied that was its intention. Spokesperson Parit Wacharasindhu on Wednesday said it would prepare its defense and was ready for all scenarios.

The party pulled off a stunning feat in winning last year's election but was blocked from forming a government by lawmakers.

Its progressive platform resonated among young and urban voters, including the plan to amend the law protecting the crown, which carries a punishment of up to 15 years in jail for each perceived insult of the royal family.

Contentious agenda

If the court rules against Move Forward, it faces dissolution and lengthy political bans for its leadership, the same fate suffered by predecessor, Future Forward, after it was dissolved in 2020 over a campaign funding violation.

A similar complaint over the royal insults law has also been filed with a Thai anti-graft body seeking life bans for 44 of Move Forward's current and former lawmakers.

Move Forward is the biggest party in the lower house with about 30 percent of seats and recent opinion polls show it is still Thailand's most popular party.

Its former prime ministerial hopeful Pita Limjaroenrat in February told Reuters his party would "fight tooth and nail" for its future amid efforts to bring down the party, which he said showed paranoia by Thailand's conservative establishment over its reform plans.