MFP Leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s PM Bid Faces Uncertain Odds

The eagerly awaited prime ministerial vote is set for Thursday, and the chances appear slim for Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), in his bid to become the next leader of the country.

Mr. Pita, the only prime ministerial candidate from the MFP, is supported by eight potential coalition partners. He requires a total of 64 votes to claim the prime ministerial seat.

However, Wednesday brought forth two significant developments that seemingly hit his prospects hard.

The morning started with a decision from the Election Commission (EC) to escalate Mr. Pita’s iTV shareholding issue to the Constitutional Court for judgment.

Additionally, the commission requested the court to suspend Mr. Pita’s duties until a verdict was delivered.

Accusations were thrown at Mr. Pita for participating in the May 14th elections despite being aware of his ineligibility due to his ownership of 42,000 shares in iTV, a media company.

The country’s charter stipulates that an individual holding shares in a media company cannot run for office.

The EC confirmed that there was sufficient evidence of Mr. Pita’s iTV shareholding during candidacy. The matter was promptly escalated to the court after EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong signed the petition.

While the MFP and its followers denounced the EC’s resolution, later that day, the Constitutional Court agreed to review a petition filed against the MFP and Mr. Pita, concerning their disputed lese majeste law policy.

Theerayut Suwankesorn, who lodged the petition, alleged that the said policy contravened Section 49, which forbids individuals from using their rights and liberties to topple the constitutional monarchy.

Reacting to the EC’s action, the MFP alleged that the commission overlooked proper inquiry procedures and raised suspicions that a specific group was exploiting the commission to obstruct Mr. Pita’s nomination.

The MFP argued that the EC hurried through the process, potentially leading to a breach of Section 157 of the Criminal Code.

However, Chaithawat Tulathon, MFP’s secretary-general, asserted that regardless of the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the eight-party coalition would unite to support Mr. Pita’s prime ministerial bid.

“Thursday could mark a turning point or a crossroads for Thai society. The outcome will determine whether the people’s voices will continue to be unheard, or if we can restore normality to facilitate the country’s progress,” he said.

An inside source from the Constitutional Court stated that the court would review the EC’s petition before deciding on its acceptance. The review is likely to take place at the court’s subsequent meeting.

The insider stated the Constitutional Court, meeting every Wednesday, only reviews items on the prior day’s agenda.

Despite the EC’s verdict, Mr. Pita showed resolve and maintained that this case would not affect his prime ministerial bid.

The MFP leader planned to attend the day’s joint meeting and share his vision to MPs and senators before the 5 pm vote.

He hinted being close to winning the prime ministerial post, which he thought could have influenced the EC’s last-minute decision.

Regarding a backup plan, he mentioned neither MFP nor Pheu Thai had an alternative if he failed to secure the post after two voting rounds.

Mr. Pita criticised the EC for not allowing him the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations, stating that the investigation was concluded hastily within just 32 days.

Protests erupted among MFP supporters across various provinces on Wednesday, including Bangkok, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, and Nakhon Ratchasima, in response to the EC’s move.

Issares Rattanadilok na Phuket, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), claimed that there was a concerted effort to disrupt Mr. Pita’s prime ministerial bid, terming it a blow to the nation’s progress.