The chances of Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat becoming Thailand’s 30th prime minister are not looking good, according to a Bangkok Post report today (bangkokpost.com was offline most of yesterday).
Recent developments appear to indicate he is unlikely to secure the 64 additional votes he needs to clinch the top job – that’s if he’s not disqualified from standing during today’s debate, and machinations between the Election Commission, Constitutional Court, leading party whips and…well, others.
The vote to elect Thailand’s next leader is scheduled to take place today, at 5pm after a day of parliamentary debate that kicked off at 9.30am this morning. Pita has said he will attend and outline his vision to MPs and senators before they vote. However, at this stage, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not voting will go ahead.
What looks like a determined campaign to thwart Pita’s PM bid was ramped up a notch yesterday, when the Election Commission decided to forward the shareholding case against him to the Constitutional Court. The EC also requested that the MFP leader be suspended as an MP, pending the court’s ruling.
The Election Commission has known about the stance of the Move Forward party since before the election and then decided not to act on any petitions in the 2 months after the May 14 election, until yesterday.
Later yesterday, the Constitutional Court accepted another petition from ‘royalist’ lawyer Theerayut Suwankesorn, accusing Pita and his party of violating Section 49 through plans to reform Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. Section 49 prohibits people from using their rights and liberties to overthrow the monarchy.
In response, the MFP has accused a “certain group” of trying to block Pita from becoming PM. The party says the EC deliberately rushed the process, accusing it of violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code, which governs procedure in these matters.
Meanwhile, Pita says he’s not bothered by the EC’s decision, saying he has confidence senators will do the right thing.
“I believe the Senate understands its role and duty. Moreover, the media outlet in question has been closed for ages, and I held the shares as the executor (of my father’s estate). And it has nothing to do with my qualification as the prime minister candidate.”
Pita has also criticised the EC for not giving him the opportunity to defend himself, saying its fact-finding was rushed and it reached a decision in just 32 days. The MFP leader says he believes his chances of becoming PM are good and this is what prompted the EC to rush its decision, announcing it the day before the vote is scheduled to take place.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post