Pheu Thai looks to Bhumjaithai to break political deadlock in Thailand

Bangkok, Aug 7 (EFE).- Pheu Thai, the party which came second in Thailand’s elections, said Monday that it will seek to form a coalition government with the third-placed party, the conservative Bhumjaithai.

The country has been in a political deadlock since the elections on May 14.

Last month, the winning party, the progressive Move Forward, failed to form a coalition with Pheu Thai and six other groups, after their candidate for prime minister Pita Limjaroenrat was twice blocked from being nominated amid opposition from royalist and pro-military senators who were appointed by the country’s now-defunct military junta which ruled between 2014 and 2019.

Prime ministerial candidates must be approved by a majority of both the 500 elected deputies in the lower house and the 250 unelected senators.

At a joint conference Monday, Cholnan Srikaew, leader of Pheu Thai – the party that was founded by exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – and Bhumjaitai leader Anutin Charnvirakul announced the new coalition, which they hope will be successful in appointing a prime minister.

However, they currently do not have enough support, as between them they have 212 seats in parliament, still well short of the 251 required for an absolute majority, but both parties said they will seek more support.

Bhumajaithai has refused to govern if Move Forward, which controversially pledged to amend tough royal defamation laws, is included in the coalition.

Thailand has strict legislation protecting the monarchy from criticism or insults, with penalties of between three and 15 years in prison.

The victory by Move Forward, a pro-democracy party which also wants to curb the military’s political power, shocked Thailand, where any form of public criticism of the monarchy was completely taboo until recent years.

Pheu Thai’s possible return to power comes amid speculation about Thaksin coming back to the country.

The former leader, who was rumored to be returning on August 10, said he was postponing his trip for two weeks for medical reasons. It is not the first time that the 74-year-old, who ruled Thailand from 2001 until he was ousted in 2006 in a coup d’état, has announced his return to the country only to later delay it.

The former leader has lived in Dubai for the last decade and faces a total of 10 years in prison in Thailand after being convicted in absentia on multiple charges, which he and his supporters say were political. EFE


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