Thailand’s former prime minister has decried the “death of democracy” after a military-appointed legislature banned her from politics for five years and launched criminal charges for negligence over a controversial rice subsidy programme.
Democracy has died in Thailand today, along with the rule of law
Yingluck Shinawatra denounced the decisions on Friday as an assault on democracy, and vowed to fight the new corruption charges.
“Democracy has died in Thailand today, along with the rule of law,” she said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
“That move to destroy me is still ongoing and I face it now,” she said after plans to hold a press conference were called off on the advice of junta officials.
Both the impeachment and corruption charges revolve around her administration’s controversial rice subsidy programme that intended to benefit her rural base but cost billions of dollars. The susbsidy scheme inspired protests that felled her government and led to a military takeover in May.
The impeachment carries an automatic five-year ban from politics, while the criminal charges could see her sentenced for up to 10 years.
Experts say the impeachment and criminal charges are the latest attempt by the country’s royalist elite, and its army backers, to nullify the political influence of the Shinawatras, whose parties have won every election since 2001.
Yingluck, Thailand’s first female prime minister and the sister of self-exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, was dumped from office by a court ruling shortly before the army seized power in a coup on May 22 last year.