Thailand's anti-graft panel said yesterday it would press charges against hundreds of politicians, mostly from the party of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, over a failed attempt to amend the constitution.
The ruling adds to the political uncertainty in the kingdom, where the main opposition party is boycotting February elections called by Yingluck in an unsuccessful attempt to end weeks of mass anti-government protests.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission - whose mandate includes investigating possible abuse of power - cleared 73 politicians including Yingluck of any wrongdoing in connection with a bid to make the senate, fully elected.
But 308 others from the upper and lower houses were found to have violated the law, based on a preliminary investigation, by drafting or proposing changes to the charter, panel spokesman Vicha Mahakun told reporters.
If officially found guilty by the commission their cases will be sent to the upper house of parliament, which has the power to ban them from politics for five years.
Yingluck's supporters see the case as one of a number of political manoeuvres aimed at removing her Puea Thai party from power.
Protesters seeking to curb the political dominance of the premier's billionaire family have vowed to block the February 2 election. They have the support of many in the kingdom's elite.
Security officials said yesterday Yingluck was ready to declare a state of emergency if needed next week. Eight people have been killed in the recent street violence.
Yingluck's opponents fear her party could fall victim to another judicial or military coup.