Thailand's beleaguered premier Yingluck Shinawatra and nine cabinet ministers were today dismissed from office by a court that found her guilty of abuse of power for the benefit of her powerful family, plunging the country into fresh political turmoil.
The cabinet immediately appointed Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan as the caretaker premier, after the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that Yingluck had a part in the transfer of Thawil Pliensri from the position of National Security Council secretary general.
The court said the transfer was done in an unusual haste in only four days and there was discrepancy in dates of documents related to the transfer hence the process was irregular.
"Therefore her prime minister status has ended...Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister," presiding judge Charoon Intachan said in a televised ruling.
Jubilant anti-government demonstrators, who accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother Thaksin and have been demanding her ouster for the last several months, blew whistles outside the court.
In the ruling, the court said Yingluck took part in the approval of the transfer.
Yingluck, 46, has argued that she assigned her deputy to handle the issue so she did not take part in it.
The court also found nine ministers who were part of Yingluck's cabinet to be complicit in the decision and ordered them to be removed from their office.
"Transferring government officials must be done in accordance with moral principle," the court said.
"Transferring with a hidden agenda is not acceptable. The Constitutional Court has ruled unanimously that (Yingluck) has used her status as the prime minister to intervene for her own and others' benefits to (transfer) a government official," the court said in its verdict.
The court also ruled that it has no mandate to order the appointment of a new prime minister within seven days as requested by Senator Paibul Nititawan who had filed the abuse of power lawsuit against Yingluck.
The court ruled that only Yingluck, who assumed office as Thailand's premier on August 5, 2011, and nine others who took part in Thawil's transfer must be removed from the cabinet and the rest of the ministers can remain in office.
Buddhist-majority Thailand has been rocked by months of political violence that has left several people dead and hundreds wounded, including many anti-government protesters, in grenade attacks and shootings.The Shinawatra family is one of the richest and most influential families in the country.