Thai opposition hit by new legal challenge as activists call for lifetime ban

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai activists filed a petition on Friday calling for a lifetime ban on dozens of Move Forward party lawmakers, the latest in a series of measures aimed at stifling popular opposition seeking to revise a tough law against insults to the monarchy.

Complaints have been filed with the anti-corruption commission to ban 44 Move Forward politicians for life, alleging serious ethical lapses in supporting a once-unthinkable plan to change one of the country’s lèse-majesté laws. strictest in the world.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that Move Forward must abandon its proposal to revise Article 112 of the penal code, which provides prison sentences of up to 15 years, saying it seriously undermined the monarchy.

The Thai constitution enshrines the king in a position of “revered worship” and royalists consider the palace sacrosanct.

“These actions are a legacy of sin,” petitioner Sonthiya Sawadee said of Move Forward’s plan.

“They have not given up on amending Article 112, which means they still intend to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the king as head of state.”

Move Forward won last year’s election on a groundswell of support from young people and urban residents for a progressive agenda that included removing business monopolies and reducing the military’s entrenched political influence .

But his taboo-breaking attempt to amend Article 112 outraged conservatives and prevented him from forming a government by lawmakers appointed by the royalist army.

Although in opposition, Move Forward is the largest party in Parliament, with an anti-establishment agenda that collides with the interests of powerful conservatives, rich old people’s families and generals.

Friday’s complaint targets 44 Move Forward lawmakers — 29 current and 15 former.

It was not immediately clear whether the anti-corruption body, whose remit goes beyond corruption, would investigate the complaint, which was the second against the party in as many days.

On Thursday, an activist lawyer whose petitions were rejected…

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