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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Thai court to hear poll problems
By Jonathan Head
BBC South-east Asia correspondent

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - 3/2/06
Mr Thaksin's party was left with almost total control of parliament
A resolution to Thailand's political crisis has moved a step closer with one of the top courts agreeing to hear complaints about last month's election.

The constitutional court is one of the three courts asked by King Bhumibol Adulyadej to break the impasse over the aftermath of the election.

But unlike the other two, it had so far insisted the results be respected.

The main opposition boycotted the poll, leaving nearly all parliamentary seats controlled by the ruling party.

Rare intervention

Of the three courts, the constitutional court is the most controversial.

Created in 1997 as one of the new independent bodies charged with curbing corruption and abuses of power, it has instead been accused of bending to pressure from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Several of its judges are said to have long-standing ties to the prime minister.

So there was little surprise that it alone among the three courts had resisted the idea of annulling last month's election results.

Now it seems to be changing its stand. By agreeing to hear complaints against the way the polling was organised, it may be signalling a willingness to back a new election.

In a rare intervention last week, the king said any parliament without an opposition presence would be undemocratic and there are few Thais who would go against advice from the their revered monarch.

A new election alone will not solve the crisis though.

Mr Thaksin's supporters say if that happens, he would no longer feel bound by his promise not to serve another term as prime minister.

And his strong following in the countryside might secure him another election victory even if the opposition parties do contest it.


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