Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Complaint against PPP deputy leader is withdrawn


Complaint against PPP deputy leader is withdrawn


Chiang Rai _ The Chart Thai candidate who lodged a complaint with the Election Commission accusing first deputy leader of the People Power party Yongyuth Tiyapairat of election fraud has withdrawn his complaint, which could have led to the PPP's dissolution. The withdrawal of the complaint triggered speculation that it could weaken the Election Commission's vote-buying charge against Mr Yongyuth.

In the complaint lodged by Wijit Yordsuwan, a Chart Thai candidate in Chiang Rai's constituency 3, Mr Yongyuth was accused of arranging for a group of tambon and village heads from Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district to be flown to Bangkok for a meeting. At the meeting, Mr Yongyuth allegedly solicited their help in campaigning for PPP candidates in Chiang Rai.

The case could have resulted in a red card for Mr Yongyuth and the dissolution of the PPP, since Mr Yongyuth is a key executive of the party.

Mr Wijit withdrew the complaint late yesterday morning.

However, Chiang Rai election director Amornpong Wichitakul insisted that the EC could continue its investigation against Mr Yongyuth because it earlier resolved to receive the case.

National EC chairman Apichart Sukhagganond said he had not yet received the request to withdraw the complaint.

However, he said, a meeting of the five members of the EC would make a decision on how to deal with the withdrawal.

A source said Mr Wijit withdrew the complaint following the visit of Chart Thai secretary-general Praphat Phothasuthon to Chiang Rai early this month.

Before he withdrew his complaint, Mr Yongyuth's former close aide Chaiwat Changkhaokham had refused to act as a key witness in the case any longer.

Mr Chaiwat, a kamnan [tambon head] in Mae Chan district, had allegedly turned his back on Mr Yongyuth and testified in support of Mr Wijit's allegation.

Several days ago, Mr Chaiwat sought police protection, claiming his life was in danger.

The PPP yesterday asked the national EC to transfer Chiang Rai police chief Pol Maj-Gen Songtham Alpart and the deputy chief of the Chiang Rai Internal Security Operations Command, Col Thawat Panya, out of the province, claiming they were not politically neutral.

Two PPP proportional representation candidates for zone 7, Pol Lt-Col Kan Thiankaew and Chaowarin Latthasaksiri, lodged the petition signed by party leader Samak Sundaravej.

Pol Lt-Col Kan said the party had also asked the EC to revoke the appointment of 708 Special Branch police officers to investigate poll fraud allegations, claiming that none of the officers were politically neutral.

In addition, the PPP will today seek urgent provisional protection from the Central Administrative Court for its elected candidates who have not been certified by the EC, and ask that investigation reports prepared by the 708 Special Branch officers be nullified, said Pol Lt-Col Kan.

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