Protesters gather outside parliament after court suspends Pita

Protesters gather outside parliament just after noon on Wednesday. Image: Zigzag07_News/Twitter
Protesters gather outside parliament just after noon on Wednesday. Image: Zigzag07_News/Twitter

The Constitutional Court suspended Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as a lawmaker this morning just as parliament reconvened for a second round of voting on his bid to become prime minister.

Crowds began forming outside the parliament soon after the court unanimously accepted an election Commission petition to rule on whether the 42-year-old politician violated election law by possessing shares in a defunct media company. The petition said Pita should be disqualified from serving in parliament as he owned 42,000 shares of ITV Public Co. Ltd. 

He has 15 days to respond to the allegations.

It was unclear what the immediate effect would be in the parliament, which was meeting for a second vote today, a week after Pita was denied the premiership largely due to the opposition of military-appointed senators.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, debate continued inside the parliament in Bangkok’s Dusit district. Outside, protesters were gathering outside the front gate, where smoke in the orange color associated with Pita’s progressive Move Forward Party was billowing as people shouted their disapproval with what they see as the latest maneuver to deny power to a duly elected leader.

On the other side of the gate, a large swarm of riot officers were standing guard, ordering the crowd not to throw anything inside the building.

In the first round of voting last week, Pita secured the support of 324 lawmakers in both houses, short of the simple majority needed of 376. He was voted down by 181 nays and 198 abstentions, which is effectively a vote against.

It seemed unlikely that Pita would win in the second round as the military-appointed senate remained firm in opposition to Pita’s leadership. 

The coalition of parties led by Move Forward earlier this week agreed that a candidate from second-place Pheu Thai Party would be nominated for the top political job should Pita not prevail on Wednesday.

Pita falls short in parliament as mass abstentions muddy vote


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