BANGKOK -Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and Thailand’s miltary stacked National Legislative Assembly have impeached Yingluck Shinawatra over corruption in a scheme she oversaw to subsidise rice farmers.
The moves could stoke tension in the politically divided country of Thai Elite Yellow Shirts and the Rural poor Redshirts who are still living under martial law after the military seized power in May, toppling Yingluck’s Shinawatra Government.
The ban and the legal case are the latest twist in 10 years of turbulent politics that have pitted Yingluck and her brother Thaksin, himself a former prime minister, against the royalist-military establishment which sees the Shinawatras as a threat and reviles their populist policies.
Yingluck will face criminal charges in the Supreme Court and if found guilty faces up to 10 years in jail, the Attorney General’s Office said on Friday.
The retroactive impeachment at the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) carries with it a five-year ban from politics.
Yingluck defended the rice scheme and disputed the charges in a hearing at the NLA on Thursday, but did not appear on Friday
Ms Yingluck has since posted a statement (in Thai) on her Facebook page accusing the authorities of trying to destroy her.
“Democracy has died in Thailand today, along with the rule of law,” she said.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government has urged Yingluck’s supporters to stay out of Bangkok this week over concerns of trouble, although a repeat of the protests that have dogged the country in recent years appears unlikely.
Authorities have been quick to stifle dissent, and political meetings are banned under martial law.
In a radio broadcast, Army Chief General Udomdej Sitabutr called on the population to respect the NLA vote, and a spokesman for the junta said it had seen no sign of unrest.
“Political gatherings cannot happen as we are still under martial law,” junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree said.