The early euphoria in Thailand at the acquittal of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on charges of asset concealment is now dampened by concern surrounding the way the decision was arrived at. Judging by the strength of evidence heard in court against the Prime Minister - who never denied assets had indeed been concealed - there is good reason to be puzzled by the verdict. Weighed against this, however, is the very real political consideration that Mr Thaksin was swept into office with a powerful mandate just seven months ago and he retains the confidence of a huge section of the Thai general public. Moreover, there are no obvious successors to the Prime Minister, whose political career would have been ended by a guilty verdict. While these factors are political reality, they should not, of course, play any part in decisions by judges. And while there is no evidence that either political factors or corruption played any role, there are already many rumours that something is amiss. In short, observers are asking how such a verdict could be possible. For this reason the Constitutional Court judges will now come under intense pressure to reveal promptly the reasons for their decision. Certainly, the markets welcomed the Prime Minister's victory - the Stock Exchange of Thailand soared on the news, mainly on the belief that the uncertainty hanging over the country while the Prime Minister was on trial was at an end. That belief may yet prove to be premature. Worries that the verdict could seriously hamper Thailand's political reform process are likely to linger. The treatment of the case against the Prime Minister - rather than the verdict itself - was widely regarded as the definitive test of the country's will to clean up its politics; until the legal process and the judges' deliberations in this case are made transparent, it is likely there will continue to be question marks about the strength of that will. For the international community, the opacity of Thai political machinations will remain so long as the fallout surrounding the Prime Minister's case continues. In the longer run, meaningful political reform will probably depend on the vicissitudes of the economy. Mr Thaksin's widespread popularity is mainly based on his promise to repair the country's ravaged economy. It is somewhat ironic that if he is able to deliver on his pledge to put the economy back on its feet, fewer ordinary people are likely to demand more political clean-ups, along with the economic disruption and political uncertainty that they inevitably bring.