Pita Limjaroenrat, the Move Forward Party’s sole candidate for prime minister, finds himself locked in a politically charged battle as he strives to assume office.
The joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate convened today, July 13rd, to select Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister. Pita, the leader of the election winner Move Forward Party, was nominated as the sole PM candidate for today, with support from 302 House representatives.
However, the PM-hopeful is currently facing a relentless onslaught of allegations from the opposition faction and the majority of the upper house members.
Some of the allegations are that Pita might not be eligible for office due to his iTV media shareholding.
According to the Thai charter, politicians are not allowed to hold media shares. The Election Commission (EC) also recently decided to ask the Constitutional Court regarding this issue and requests the court to suspend Pita’s political duty.
Certain members of the 250 senators are using this allegation as a reason not to vote for him or abstain their votes. The senators also warn the coalition that they might violate the Constitution if they insist on supporting an unqualified candidate, although no ruling has been made yet regarding Pita’s iTV shareholding.
Meanwhile, the opposition faction or the former government camp is bombarding Pita for his intention to amend the lese-majeste law.
They claim that the amendment will undermine Thailand’s esteemed royal institution that has been instrumental in building and protecting the country since its inception.
Instead of focusing on the amendment, the Move Forward Party should focus on addressing other important issues such as higher living costs and drug problems, the opposition urged.
As a result, the opposition will not vote for Pita as a premier.
In response to both the upper house and the opposition, Pita said that he acknowledged concerns about his candidacy and commended parliamentarians for maturely and transparently discussing these matters within the parliament.
Regarding the allegations, Pita emphasized that any amendment to the law should be conducted within the framework of the constitutional monarchy system in parliament, including the amendment to the lese majeste law.
He clarified that the amendment was not part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the 8-party coalition, which includes the Move Forward Party. Consequently, none of the remaining 7 parties have provisions for the amendment.
Regarding his eligibility, Pita mentioned that the Constitutional Court has yet to issue a ruling on his case related to media shareholding. He also highlighted that he was not notified by the Election Commission about the allegations made against him, denying him the opportunity to defend himself. Despite these challenges, Pita firmly asserted that he remains fully qualified for nomination.
He needs 376 yes votes to become PM which begins as of press time.