Thai PM frontrunner Pita confident against disqualification bid over media shares

Bangkok, June 6 (EFE).- The leader of the reformist Move Forward party, Pita Limjaroenrat, on Tuesday brushed aside accusations of election wrongdoing over alleged ownership of shares in a now-closed media outlet, which could result in disqualification despite his victory in the recent elections.

Pita’s surprise victory in the general elections in May represented a major change in the Thai political landscape following nearly a decade of military rule.

Pita said on social media that he was “very confident” that he was not unfit to run for office and to be a candidate for the prime minister’s post.

Currently, the Electoral Commission is investigating a complaint related to him being a shareholder of the iTV media entity, which lost broadcast rights in 2007.

In this regard, the prime ministerial hopeful claims that iTV no longer qualifies as a media entity.

Pita, who leads a pro-democratic coalition aiming to form the government, said Tuesday in a statement that he had transferred, at an unspecified date, his shares in the now-closed media entity to relatives, and did not violate electoral rules.

If the electoral authorities find the complaint – made by a conservative activist – valid, it will be referred to the Constitutional Court, which would ultimately decide on the hypothetical disqualification.

Faced with this scenario, Thailand could end up holding elections again, interim Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said last week.

Move Forward, a young progressive party committed to a democratic shift in the country, registered an unexpected victory in the May 14 elections and leads a coalition that enjoys a large majority in the 500-seat House of Representatives, or the lower house of the parliament.

However, the appointment of the prime minister needs a combined majority of both houses of the parliament, where the upper house or the Senate is made up of 250 members hand-picked by the military junta that ruled between 2014-2019. EFE


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