Pita’s fate in the hands of EC, Constitutional Court, says Wissanu

MONDAY, MAY 29, 2023

The political future of PM-hopeful Pita Limjaroenrat will depend on the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court in light of allegations that he owns shares in a media firm, an outgoing deputy PM said.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said it was still uncertain whether the EC or the court will make their decision before the Parliament convenes to elect the next premier. Wissanu is the outgoing government’s legal expert.

Pita is the sole PM candidate of Move Forward, which won the highest number or 151 of the 500 House seats. Traditionally, Pita can legitimately form a coalition government and contest for the PM’s post.

However, some political observers believe he faces uncertainty now that Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, who describes himself as an activist, filed a complaint with EC on May 9 claiming Pita holds 42,000 shares in ITV Plc.

Pita has dismissed the complaint as “nonsense”.

Ruangkrai said the Constitution’s Article 98 (3) prohibits owners or shareholders of media firms from running in national elections.

On May 24, Ruangkrai submitted more documents to the EC, including a list of ITV shareholders and its financial reports over the past 18 years.

As per a timeline outlined by Wissanu, the joint voting by MPs and senators to elect the PM may take place on August 3.

Sources from the EC Office say the commission may endorse the election results in early June and make a decision on whether it will proceed with Ruangkrai’s complaint against Pita at the same time.

Wissanu said if the EC decides to reject Ruangkrai’s complaint, then the first hurdle will be cleared. However, if it is not cleared, then Pita will face the second hurdle at Constitutional Court.

Since the EC has not responded to the complaint, Wissanu said he cannot tell if the EC and court will make their decision before or after the Parliament elects the next PM.

If Pita is disqualified over his media shares, then his party’s MPs may also be disqualified because he was the one to endorse them as Move Forward candidates, political experts point out.