Thai parliament to vote for PM again after blocking winner

Bangkok, Jul 20 (EFE).- Thailand’s parliament will again hold a vote in a week to select the prime minister but will not include the winner of the elections, reformist Pita Limjaorenrat, due to the blockade of non-elected senators.

Sources in parliament, made up of 500 deputies elected at the polls and 250 senators handpicked by the former military junta, told EFE that the vote will take place on July 27, two weeks after Pita’s first attempt.

The blockade of Pita, leader of Move Forward, temporarily suspended as a parliamentarian due to a dubious legal case, opens a period of uncertainty in the country concerning who will be the next candidate to lead the government.

Among the probable choices is candidate Srettha Thavisin, one of the leaders of the veteran Pheu Thai party, led by the influential Shinawatra family and who came second in the May 14 elections.

Pita and his party lead a coalition of 8 pro-democratic parties, including Pheu Thai, which account for 312 of the 500 members in the upper house, but senators, mostly pro-military and conservative, also participate in the selection of the head of government.

Parliament voted on July 13 against Pita’s attempt to become prime minister because of the senators and did not allow him to re-apply for candidacy Wednesday.

The senators oppose Move Forward’s reformist agenda, especially its intention to reform the controversial royal defamation law to reduce penalties, currently stood at between three and 15 years in prison, for anyone who criticizes the royal family.

Amid the Wednesday vote, the 42-year-old progressive candidate was dismissed as a parliamentarian by the Constitutional Court for a controversial case related to his possession of 0.0035 percent of shares in a media channel, something prohibited by electoral law.

The channel has been inactive since 2007 and has not been completely dissolved due to several pending legal disputes.

If the Constitutional Court finds Pita guilty, he could face a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and 20 years of political disqualification.

The court also accepted another complaint last week against Move Forward, accused of trying to “overthrow” the country’s democratic system for the royal defamation reform proposal, which can mean disqualification and prison terms for its board of directors.

In February 2020, the Thai justice system dissolved and banned the leaders of Future Forward for a case of irregular financing, a few months after expelling its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from parliament.

The politicians of the dissolved party re-founded it under the Move Forward name, which opposed the pro-military and ultra-monarchical elite that promoted the coups of 2006 and 2014. EFE


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