BANGKOK – Thailand’s prime minister was forced to resign Wednesday after the Constitutional Court found her guilty in an abuse of power case, pushing the country deeper into political turmoil.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was charged with abusing her authority by transferring a senior civil servant in 2011 to another position. The court ruled that the transfer was carried out with a “hidden agenda” to benefit her politically powerful family and, therefore, violated the constitution, an accusation she has denied.
The court ruling marks the latest dramatic twist in Thailand’s long-running political crisis. It was a victory for Yingluck’s opponents, who for the past six months have been engaged in vociferous and sometimes violent street protests demanding she step down to make way for an interim unelected leader.
But it does little to resolve Thailand’s political crisis as it leaves the country in limbo — and primed for more violence. Since November, more than 20 have been killed and hundreds injured.
The ruling also casts doubt on whether new elections planned for July will take place, which would anger Yingluck’s mostly rural supporters who have called for a major rally Saturday in Bangkok.
It also remains far from clear whether her opponents will be able to achieve other key demands, including creating a reform council overseen by a leader of their choice who will carry out various steps to rid the country of corruption and what they say is money politics, including alleged vote-buying.
The campaign against Yingluck has been the latest chapter in Thailand’s political upheaval that began when her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a 2006 military coup after protests accusing him of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Since then, Thaksin’s supporters and opponents have engaged in a power struggle that has on occasion turned bloody.