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Thai parliament rejects Pita's PM nomination

July 19, 2023

The Thai parliament refused to give progressive Pita Limjareonat a second PM vote. Earlier, Thailand's Constitutional Court temporarily suspended Pita as it hears an election crimes case involving him.

Pita Limjaroenrat
Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat came out ahead in Thailand's election in May Image: Athit Perawongmetha/REUTERS

Thailand's parliament on Wednesday voted to void the prime ministerial nomination of Pita Limjaroenat

"Pita can't be nominated twice in this parliamentary session," the parliament house speaker said. Pita failed a PM vote last week.   

The move comes as the Thai parliament on Wednesday convenes to vote for a new PM. Pita's social democratic Move Forward party came out the strongest in the May 14 general election, having won 151 seats.  

Thai court temporarily bars Pita from lawmaker duties

Earlier, Thailand's Constitutional Court on Wednesday temporarily suspended Pita from his parliamentary duties, as it considers an electoral crimes case against him. 

In a majority vote, the court said it would consider an Election Committee petition that would disqualify Pita's status as a member of parliament. In the meantime, the judicial body said Pita "must suspend his role from July 19, until the Constitutional Court has made the decision." 

The case against Pita revolves around his stake in a now-defunct media company. According to the Thai constitution, lawmakers are prohibited from owning stock in media outlets. 

Pita, who comes from wealth, has said his stake in the company was inherited from his father.

Pita was still able to seek the premiership but had to vacate the lower house of parliament and not be allowed to vote. 

Pro-Pita protesters at the parliament in Bangkok
Pro-Pita protesters expressed their solidarity with the Move Forward party leader as his PM hopes dwindledImage: Athit Perawongmetha/REUTERS

In response, Pita has posted on his official Instagram account saying, "It has become obvious that the people's vote is not enough to rule the country, it has to be approved by the senators, and it probably won't be enough for the second PM nomination."

Progressive Pita in tough fight against conservative establishment 

Harvard-educated Pita faced an uphill battle as Thailand's conservative elite reject his party's economic reforms and promises to weaken royal defamation laws. Thailand's penal code punishes those convicted of insulting or defaming Thailand's royal family with three to 15 years of prison for each count.

Pita had managed to put together an eight-party coalition backing his PM candidacy, representing 312 seats in the House of Representatives in total. Yet, the non-elected, military-backed Senate last week rejected his premiership due to Move Forward's pro-democracy platform.

Philip Sherwell, an Asia correspondent for the British Sunday Times newspaper in Bangkok, had told DW that Wednesday's court ruling is a "huge setback" for Pita's campaign.

Sherwell said the Senate was even less likely to back Pita's candidacy after the constitutional court temporarily suspended him from lawmaker duties. "The numbers are really against him," he added. 

wd/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)