The leader of Future Forward party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been charged on Saturday with sedition, the latest legal action facing the rising star after a disputed March election. The sedition charge filed by the junta was the second criminal case opened against him, since he formed the progressive, youth-oriented Future Forward party last year.
Thanathorn is charged with breaking article 116 of the Thai criminal code, the equivalent of sedition, and article 189, for supporting others who committed a serious crime. He could face up to nine years in prison if found guilty. According to the electoral law, a criminal conviction could spell electoral disqualification for Thanathorn, who has looked set to become a member of parliament.
Charismatic and wealthy, Thanathorn is the co-founder of Future Forward, which was formed in March after the electoral commission allowed new parties to register for the first time in five years, with a view to a possible election in 2019. The Future Forward party made a surprisingly strong showing in the 24 March election, coming in third with 6.2m votes. It was still uncertain which party could form a government after the election, the first since an army coup in 2014. Earlier in the week, he said the charges were politically motivated, adding: “The dark influence will not leave Future Forward Party alone.”