Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Agency [official website, in Thai] on Tuesday formally charged [text, PDF, in Thai] Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra [BBC profile] with neglect of duty relating to management of the country's multi-billion dollar rice-subsidy program. The charges allege [WSJ report] that Shinawatra failed to adequately address reports of corruption in the allocation of the subsidies, at a large financial cost to the state. The agency has claims that Shinawatra was negligent in allowing the subsidy program to continue, violating both constitutional and criminal laws. She was ordered to appear to hear the charges in proceedings scheduled for February 27. Shinawatra has denied [AFP report] the allegations and defended the programs as beneficial to rural farmers, blaming delayed payments on political rivals. If convicted impeachment proceedings will begin to have her removed from office.
Shinawatra's administration is currently under heavy protest from the political opposition in Thailand, and recent weeks have been marred by political violence. This announcement came mere hours after a police officer and three civilians were killed and 64 others injured in clashes in the city's historical district. On February 12 the Thai Constitutional Court rejected [JURIST report] petitions filed by the opposition Democrat Party to annul the January elections on the grounds that they were held unconstitutionally since they were not completed in a single day. The petition also requested [JURIST report] the dissolution of the ruling party and a ban on party executives from holding public office for a period of five years. On January 26 the opposition protest leader Suthin Thararin was shot [JURIST report] to death in Bangkok during a protest blocking a voting station, just five days after the Thai government imposed [JURIST report] a 60-day state of emergency in response to the protests and violence. The Thai opposition requested [JURIST report] international assistance in November to overthrow the current government.