Yingluck faces infrastructure bill impeachment bid

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is facing another impeachment attempt after the charter court vetoed her government's 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill, branding it unconstitutional.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters in Khon Kaen that she will comply with the Constitution Court's ruling on the borrowing bill. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The Constitution Court ruled on Wednesday that the bill to allow the Finance Ministry to seek 2 trillion baht in loans for infrastructure development projects was unconstitutional.

The ruling came after a group of Democrat Party MPs asked the court to decide if the bill violated sections 169 and 170 of the constitution when it was passed by parliament in November last year.

Democrat MP for Songkhla Wirat Kanlayasiri, one of the politicians that complained to the charter court about the bill, said on Thursday that 20,000 signatures will be collected in an impeachment petition calling for Ms Yingluck and her caretaker cabinet to be removed from office.

The petition will then be handed to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Canvassing for signatures will start once the official court ruling on the case is released to the public within the next two weeks, Mr Wirat said.

In the absence of a serving House of Representatives, it will be up to the NACC to decide whether to impeach Ms Yingluck.

However Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn said the prime minister should be safe in the short run.

The impeachment process would be time-consuming and it could be delayed since due process demands that various signatures be verified by the Interior Ministry, he said in an interview on FM101 radio station.

The court's ruling that the loans bill and the process used to pass it were unconstitutional stirred calls for the prime minister and cabinet to resign and take responsibility for their mismanagement of the financial legislation.

But Ms Yingluck said on Wednesday that the government initiated the bill with good intentions for developing the country, while other ministers said the responsibility for the legislation rests with parliament, which passed the bill after it was approved by cabinet.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva questioned Ms Yingluck's assertion that her administration had done no wrong in pressing ahead with the bill, insisting that it was clear the Pheu Thai Party intended to cheat the legislative process by allowing MPs to use parliament voting cards on behalf of their colleagues.

According to evidence sent to the charter court, Naris Thongthiratch, a Pheu Thai MP for Sakon Nakhon, voted on behalf of other MPs by inserting their electronic cards to pass the 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill in parliament.

Deputy Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit argued that Ms Yingluck is responsible for the bill, since it was initiated by her government and endorsed by her before being sent to parliament.

The bill was intended to allow the Finance Ministry to seek 2 trillion baht in loans for infrastructure development projects, including high-speed trains.

The court unanimously agreed with a vote of 8-0 that the content of the bill violated provisions stated in Chapter 8 of the charter which covers fiscal and budget affairs. It also voted 6-2 that the bill's legislative procedures went against sections 122 and 126 of the constitution. 

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