Clamor grows for resignation of Thailand’s military-appointed Senate

Bangkok, July 16 (EFE).- Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and the internet on Sunday to denounce the appointed senators by the now-defunct military junta for blocking the appointment of the election winner as prime minister in Thailand.

In Bangkok, hundreds of people participated in a car rally to express their outrage over the senators who voted against Pita Limjaroenrat, the frontrunner to be the next prime minister, in a parliamentary vote.

Others voiced their discontent on social media.

According to Bangkok Post, the demonstrators gathered at Democracy Monument before moving to the headquarters of the navy, the army, and the police.

The Post quoted activist Arnon Nampa saying that if those senators resigned, the threshold majority vote from the House and Senate would be sufficient for Pita to become prime minister.

Some senators have accused supporters of the Move Forward party of launching a “witch hunt” against them after Pita lost the vote on Thursday.

The 42-year-old leader of the progressive Move Forward party fell short of the required support in the bicameral parliament.

The coalition led by Pita, which includes the Pheu Thai party, holds a significant majority, with 312 out of the 500 lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

He needed a minimum of 376 votes from the 500-member House of Representatives and 250 senators appointed in 2019 by the now-defunct military regime.

The winner must secure an absolute majority by combining the votes from both chambers.

Pita received just 324 votes of house representatives and senators, the majority of whom are military and conservative figures.

The Senate was established and fully appointed by the military junta that took power in a coup in 2014 before the country transitioned to democracy in 2019.

Thursday’s session witnessed intense opposition to Pita’s efforts to reform laws safeguarding the Thai royal family from criticism, which currently carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.

The Move Forward party, with its reformist agenda, enjoys substantial support among young voters and the protesters who took to the streets in 2020 and 2021 to demand extensive changes in the country, including the reform of the lèse-majesté law.

The majority of the senators vehemently oppose the proposed reforms.

The constitution, drafted by the military during the dictatorial regime, stipulates a 5-year term for senators, which ends in 2024.

Pita indicated that he will reapply for the candidacy on July 19, and his party will also try to abolish the article that gives power to senators to participate in the election of the prime minister.

However, he said he would step aside from the race if he fails to win the parliamentary vote next week. EFE


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