Thailand’s Move Forward Party appoints new leader amid political challenges

Bangkok, Sep 23 (EFE).- Thailand’s opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) nominated a new leader on Saturday, following the departure of Pita Limjaroenrat, who led the party to a surprising victory in May’s elections but was unable to form a government due to the Senate’s blockade.

Chaithawat Tulathon will now lead the Move Forward Party.

At 45 years old, Chaithawat, an environmental engineer, takes over from the charismatic Pita, who resigned on Sep.15 after being disqualified as a lawmaker.

The party announced on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that the new leader was elected during a general meeting.

Chaithawat has said he will hold the position until Pita returns as a lawmaker and resumes leadership of the party.

Pita, 43, has been appointed as a special advisor to the Move Forward Party, which emerged as the largest party in the House of Representatives with 151 seats after the May elections, causing a significant shift in Thailand’s political landscape.

However, Pita’s efforts to form a government were thwarted by the unelected Senate’s blockade.

Following the elections, Pita initiated a pro-democratic coalition with the veteran Pheu Thai party and other smaller groups in an attempt to form a government.

However, on July 13, the majority of the 250 senators, hand-picked during the previous military junta’s rule (2014-2019), blocked this move.

The coalition failed to secure the necessary majority of 376 votes in the bicameral parliament to elect Pita as prime minister.

In a subsequent vote on July 19, the Senate rejected his candidacy.

On the same day, the constitutional court disqualified Pita due to a controversial case related to his ownership of shares in an inactive TV channel.

The Move Forward Party, and its predecessor Future Forward, have faced controversial legal proceedings aimed at electoral disqualification.

The progressive party has ruffled feathers among the pro-monarchist and pro-military elite due to its proposals to curtail the power of the generals and reform the lese-majeste law, perceived by some as an attack on the monarchy.

Following Move Forward’s unsuccessful attempts, Pheu Thai leader Srettha Thavisin formed a coalition with other parties, including two pro-military parties, and was elected prime minister on Aug. 22.

Thavisin’s rise to power coincided with the return of Thaksin Shinawatra from exile, considered the de facto leader of Pheu Thai.

Thaksin is currently serving a one-year prison sentence, reduced from an original eight-year term. However, he is staying in a hospital with unusual comforts for a prisoner. EFE


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