Sat, Aug 18, 2007 - Page 1 News List

New parties cleared to join Thailand's elections

AFP , BANGKOK

Thailand yesterday cleared the way for politicians to form new parties for the first time since last year's coup, as jockeying begins for general elections promised by year's end.

Politicians will now be free to start rallying their forces for the elections, as erstwhile allies of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra decide if they will continue to band together.

General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who toppled Thaksin's government last September, is also reportedly considering the creation of a new military party to back his own candidacy for prime minister.

The law allowing new parties was passed by the parliament a month ago, but King Bhumibol Adulyadej has only now signed it into law.

It was to become effective when published in the government's official register, probably late yesterday, government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said.

"Politicians can submit their applications for new parties with the Election Commission on the following working day," he said.

Election officials have warned it would take at least one month for new parties to win approval.

About 300 Thaksin allies have already joined the tiny People Power party, raising its profile.

Thai Rak Thai (TRT), the twice-elected party formed by Thaksin and led by him until his ouster, was dissolved in May after a court ruled that it had violated election laws.

Some former TRT members have publicly toyed with the idea of creating their own parties.

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