Thai anti-junta party leader faces possible disqualification

BANGKOK (AFP) – The billionaire leader of an upstart anti-junta party which scooped up millions of votes in Thailand’s disputed election last month faced fresh legal woes on Tuesday after authorities accused him of illegally holding shares while running for office.

Last month’s poll remains in dispute after a political party backed by the junta that has ruled Thailand since 2014 and its main rival both claimed victory.

The youth-oriented Future Forward meanwhile became the third-most popular party in the country, garnering six million votes in the March 24 election thanks to the telegenic appeal of its billionaire leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

But legal assaults have trailed his success at the ballot box and could affect final results expected next month, with the Election Commission announcing on Tuesday a fresh probe into the party chief for allegedly holding shares in a media company during the campaign.

The punishment could be a disqualification for Thanathorn and members of his party, commission secretary-general Jarungwit Pumma told AFP.

“The decision is still not clear at the moment,” he added.

Thanathorn, who is travelling in Europe, said on Twitter that the case was “political sabotage” and he would return soon.

Thailand’s Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. – AP