Pita Limjaroenrat, serving as the advisory chairman for the Move Forward Party (MFP), will maintain his position as a Member of Parliament and continue as the party’s nominee for prime minister.
This follows the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Wednesday that his ownership of iTV shares does not disqualify him from running for a parliamentary seat.
The ruling has brought relief to the Move Forward Party and its supporters, who are now bracing for another verdict that could potentially threaten the existence of the leading opposition party, according to some analysts.
Next Wednesday, the Constitutional Court is slated to deliver a decision on whether the party’s stance on amending Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, constitutes an attempt to overthrow the monarchy.
Following the court’s announcement, Pita shared a photo on Facebook of himself and the party’s leader, Chaithawat Tulathon, giving a wai, along with a caption that read: “Thank you for all your support. I’ll move forward and keep working, no more waiting.”
Pita, who had been temporarily relieved of his parliamentary duties since July 19 due to the court’s review of the case initiated by the Election Commission, is now cleared to resume his responsibilities.
In a press interview, Pita stated that there is no need for the MFP to alter its executive committee following the court’s verdict. He had previously stepped down to allow his successor to become the opposition leader.
He expressed his intention to continue focusing on the party’s strategic initiatives as directed by the leadership and announced plans to disclose these initiatives soon, with his scheduled visits to various provinces proceeding as planned.
Chaithawat, who also leads the opposition, reassured that the party is not apprehensive about the upcoming ruling and anticipates a positive outcome.
In response to inquiries about potential changes in the party’s leadership, he said that the party’s annual meeting is set for late April, and he is open to Pita being reinstated as the party leader and assuming the role of opposition leader if the party members wish so.
Political observers believe that the court’s ruling is unlikely to significantly alter the political landscape but could enhance the party’s morale and ease political tensions.
Thanaporn Sriyakul, head of the Political Science Association at Kasetsart University, told local media that Pita’s reinstatement is a welcome development for his supporters and could invigorate the political environment.
However, he added that this does not signal a shift in the political dynamics, as the Move Forward Party continues its role in the opposition, working to garner support and achieve victories.
He also mentioned that he does not foresee the forthcoming ruling as being adverse for the party, and even if it were, the process of dissolving the party would be lengthy.
Wanwichit Boonprong, a political science educator at Rangsit University, noted that the recent court decision offers only temporary respite for the party, given the numerous pending legal challenges.
Nonetheless, he believes that Pita’s return to the parliamentary scene will uplift the party’s spirit and alleviate political tensions.
The court, with an 8:1 verdict, clarified that since iTV is no longer an active media entity, Pita’s possession of its shares did not affect his eligibility to seek a position as an MP candidate last April.