Move Forward Party Overcomes First Petitions for Dissolution

Four recent petitions and a dissolution request for the Move Forward Party (MFP) have been dismissed, and not grounds for the party’s dissolution, by the Election Commission (EC), as per an insider.

As the eight-party coalition led by the MFP pursues the formation of a new government, the motions for its dissolution have been rejected.

In his role as the registrar of political parties, Sawaeng Boonmee, the Election Commission (EC) secretary-general, disagreed that MFP candidate Padipat Suntiphada, representing Constituency 1 of Phitsanulok, violated EC regulation 17 by referencing the royal institution on March 5, the insider shared.

The petitions also addressed the MFP’s intention to revise or nullify Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, the source added.

Claims of manipulation by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Pannikar Wanich, the Progressive Movement’s leader and spokeswoman respectively, who consult the party yet are viewed as outsiders, were also included as potential breaches of the organic law on political parties, the source mentioned.

Despite the EC’s latest ruling seeming favourable for the party, analysts and legal professionals warn it doesn’t signify the resolution of the party’s challenges.

Jade Donavanik, a legal scholar and a former advisor to a constitution drafting panel, suggested that the EC’s intended investigation into an alleged breach of Section 151 of the organic law on the election of MPs by MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat, could pose both benefits and drawbacks for the party.

As the Section 151 issue will need to be escalated to court as a criminal case, the burden will be on the EC to demonstrate Mr Pita’s guilt, while Mr Pita himself will need to proclaim his innocence, Mr Jade explained.

When asked to evaluate evidence presented by Mr Pita regarding his ownership of shares in iTV Plc, as reported by media, Mr Jade suggested the outcome of Mr Pita’s case could go either way.

In a recent Facebook post, Mr Pita stated: “I’ve tried my best…What about you?” This message was complemented by his previous post from June 24, 2021, where he characterized Thailand as engaged in a legal battle.

The Senate’s committee on political development and public participation chairman, Senator Seree Suwanpanont, stated that the EC has not clearly outlined the subsequent steps should they find Mr Pita guilty.

During a Senate committee meeting scheduled for June 20, they will analyze the EC’s directive concerning its investigation against Mr Pita and deliberate on it comprehensively, he mentioned.

On the preceding Friday, the EC resolved to investigate whether Mr Pita knowingly registered as a list-MP candidate, despite potentially being ineligible to campaign for a House seat.

Simultaneously, the EC rejected all petitions demanding an investigation into whether Mr Pita’s iTV shareholding disqualified him from contesting the election initially, justifying that these were filed after the candidate qualifications were evaluated. This decision has upset some critics of the party.

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana stated he intends to formally contest the EC’s decision to discard his petition.

Ruangkrai, who lodged his complaint with the election regulator on May 10, remains convinced that a petition regarding Mr Pita’s suspected ineligibility can still be filed, even after the EC validates Mr Pita’s MP status.

Furthermore, he argued that the responsibility of escalating the issue to the Constitutional Court lies with the EC.

Ruangkrai claimed he has substantial evidence demonstrating that Mr Pita has possessed 42,000 iTV shares since 2008, disqualifying him from participating in the election.

He also accused the EC for neglecting to address several queries he had about Mr Pita’s alleged ineligibility in the dismissed petition and is now resolved to obtain a definitive answer.