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Thai court accepts case seeking to disband opposition Move Forward Party

BANGKOK — Thailand's Constitutional Court on Wednesday (April 3) accepted a case seeking the dissolution of the opposition Move Forward Party, in another blow for a popular anti-establishment movement pushing major institutional reforms in the country.

The court agreed to take on a complaint filed by the election commission asking to disband Move Forward for its controversial campaign to reform a law that shields the powerful monarchy from criticism, under which at least 260 people have been prosecuted in the past few years.

The case follows a January ruling by the same court that found Move Forward's plan to amend the law was unconstitutional and tantamount to an attempt to overthrow the system of government with the king as head of state.

Move Forward has denied that was its intention. Spokesperson Parit Wacharasindhu on Wednesday said it would prepare its defence and was ready for all scenarios.

The party pulled off a stunning feat in winning last year's election but was blocked from forming a government by lawmakers allied with the royalist military.

Its progressive platform resonated among young and urban voters, including the plan to amend the law protecting the crown, which carries a punishment of up to 15 years jail for each perceived insult of the royal family.

Thailand's monarchy is constitutionally enshrined to be held in a position of "revered worship" and many royalists see the law as sacrosanct. The palace typically does not comment on the law, which is among the strictest of its kind in the world.

Contentious agenda

If the court rules against Move Forward, it faces dissolution and lengthy political bans for its leadership, the same fate suffered by predecessor, Future Forward, after it was dissolved in