(Update 2: recasts with parliament blocking vote)
Bangkok, Jul 19 (EFE).- Thailand’s parliament on Wednesday blocked a vote on whether Pita Limjaroenrat, whose progressive Move Forward party surprisingly won the elections in May, should become prime minister.
Thailand’s parliament is made up of an elected lower house and an unelected upper chamber, whose 250 pro-military and royalist senators were hand-picked by the former junta that ruled the country from 2014 to 2019.
In a repeat of last week’s first round of votes to elect the prime minister, those senators were decisive in blocking Wednesday’s vote on Pita’s candidacy, which effectively ended his bid to become prime minister.
Pita had been forced to leave the chamber earlier on Wednesday after being suspended as a member of parliament by the constitutional court over an investigation into his former ownership of shares in a now inactive telecommunications company.
“I trust all my fellow deputies to use the parliamentary system to take care of the people,” he said.
“Thailand has changed since May 14. The people have won half the battle (in the elections), there is still the other half left. Although I have not been able to do my duty, I ask my colleagues to continue to care for the citizens,” Pita said before leaving his seat to comply with the court order.
Amid hugs with his party members and other leaders of the opposition coalition, which along with seven other parties has a large majority in the elected lower House of Representatives, the reformist candidate left the chamber raising his fist in a gesture of protest.
With a political crisis looming, hundreds of Move Forward supporters protested in Bangkok on Wednesday, mainly at the iconic Democracy Monument.
Move Forward swept to victory in the May 14 election on a platform of pro-democracy reform, including amendments to strict laws against royal defamation. EFE