Thai political party ban lifted

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Anti-coup demonstrators in Bangkok on 4 June 2007

The coup has not been popular in some quarters

A ban on political party activities in Thailand has been lifted by the military-backed interim government.The ban was imposed last September after the coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A spokesman said the ban was being lifted to allow parties to campaign for a general election, which has been tentatively scheduled for December.

The move comes days after a court ordered the dissolution of Mr Thaksin’s former ruling party, Thai Rak Thai.

Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said the decision to lift the ban was made at Tuesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting.

“The Cabinet agreed for existing political parties and groups of politicians to carry out their political activities,” he said.

“This resolution is effective immediately.”

Protests

The decision to lift the ban comes six days after a Constitutional Tribunal found Thai Rak Thai guilty of violations during elections in April 2006.

The judges ruled that the party must be disbanded, and banned 111 of its most senior leaders – including Mr Thaksin, who now lives abroad – from politics for five years.

The same tribunal cleared the other main political party, the Democrats, of similar charges.

The Thai authorities beefed up security ahead of the ruling amid fears of unrest.

But although thousands of Thai Rak Thai supporters took to the streets in protest at the decision, there was no violence.

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