Thailand's constitutional court on Tuesday banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years and dissolved the ruling party over a case of voting fraud.
"As the court decided to dissolve the People Power Party, therefore the leader of the party and party executives must be banned from politics for five years," said Chat Chonlaworn, head of the nine-judge court panel.
"The court had no other option," he said.
The verdict came amid a confrontation between Somchai, the brother-in-law of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and anti-government protesters occupying Bangkok's airports.
Somchai was elected by parliament on September 17 after his predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, was forced from office last month for appearing in television cooking shows.
The judge, wearing a black robe with a scarlet collar, read the order live on national television.
"No matter whether you are satisfied or not with the verdict, we ask you to accept it," he said.
The verdict said the party must be disbanded because PPP executives had been convicted of vote fraud after elections in December 2007.
"Although some party executives had no knowledge of the election fraud, the law stipulates clearly... the party must scrutinise its executives thus the party cannot deny responsibility," Chat said.