The Constitutional Court of Thailand has been urged by the Election Commission (EC) to decide whether the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), which won the most parliamentary seats, should be barred from the parliament.
The case against MFP’s leader Pita Limjaroenrat was brought to the court on Wednesday, just a day prior to the dual-chambered parliament’s planned vote on the entrepreneur’s ambition to be Thailand’s next prime minister at the age of 42.
Pita enjoys the support of an alliance of eight political parties that aim to establish a fresh government.
The action by the election commission was broadcasted by the news agency Reuters along with three local media platforms.
The commission has been investigating whether Pita was deliberately ineligible to apply as a parliamentary contender due to his stake in a media company, an act forbidden by election regulations.
Pita has minimized the issue, asserting that the shares in the company, iTV, have since been transferred and the firm was not a functioning media enterprise.
He risks disqualification, a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment and a political ban of 20 years if found guilty of violating the regulations.
The Move Forward Party, in a press release, criticized the election commission for hastily referring the case and argued that Pita should have been granted an opportunity to challenge and counter the charges.
In the election on May 14, Move Forward and another opposition party, Pheu Thai, heavily defeated opponents aligned with the military.
This was largely interpreted as a sweeping repudiation of a nine-year rule directly or indirectly controlled by the nation’s generals.22
The party’s platform opposes the establishment, including a reduction in the military’s political influence, dismantling monopolies, and revisiting a contentious law prohibiting “insulting the monarchy.”
This contradicts the objectives of the monarchist military and entrenched business aristocracy, which have been major political players in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy for many years.
Since then, Pita has been the target of several complaints from competitors, where three of the complaints have been dismissed by the election commission due to their late submission.
Four additional complaints lodged against his party have also been dismissed.