Thailand's Constitutional Court defused a potential political crisis Friday by dismissing a complaint that the ruling party's attempt to amend the constitution amounted to plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
Had the court sustained the complaint, it could have ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's party dissolved just a year after the landslide election that brought it to power. Many feared such a ruling would have provoked mass street protests and possible violence. Thailand's constitution was written in 2007 under an interim, unelected government temporarily in power after a military coup. Seeing the charter as undemocratic, lawmakers from Yingluck's Pheu Thai party wanted to establish a drafting committee to amend it. In reading the compromise verdict, judge Nurak Marpraneet said the charter could be amended section by section, though it could not be entirely rewritten. Nurak then said "there are not enough facts to show" that the charter amendment aimed to topple the constitutional monarchy. "What the complainants indicated in the petition was merely speculation," he said. The complex legal case was the latest convulsion of a sometimes-violent tug-of-war between allies and adversaries of the exiled billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist former prime minister who was overthrown six years ago. It also marked one of the biggest tests yet of the stability of the government led by Yingluck, Thaksin's sister, whose election victory was widely viewed as a referendum on Thaksin's rule.