Pita 'confident' as debate for PM vote gets underway in Parliament
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat expressed confidence he would become Thailand’s next prime minister on Thursday, as MPs and senators prepared to vote.
Speaking to reporters before attending the joint House-Senate sitting that started at 9.30am, Pita said he still had confidence in the vote despite the Election Commission (EC) forwarding his iTV shareholding case to the Constitutional Court Office for a ruling.
He said he would try his best to meet the expectations of voters, while also thanking his supporters who have gathered in front of Parliament to offer moral support.
“I’ll do my best to explain my vision to serve the people, which I have been doing since before the May 14 election,” Pita said.
“I’ll try to clarify any doubts that senators raise during the debate for the PM vote. I’ll use this chance to form a consensus among parliamentarians.”
Party whips have agreed to hold six hours of debate before the vote for a new prime minister is held at 5 pm.
Asked whether he had a chance to talk to senators before the debate, Pita replied he would have to wait to hear them speak in Parliament.
Speculation is circulating that some senators will propose postponing the PM vote pending a decision by the Constitutional Court on Pita’s shareholding case.
Pita said he did not expect the PM vote to be postponed as this would not bode well for anyone.
He noted that Constitutional Court judges have not yet decided whether to accept the case, and the court office had only checked the validity of the petition document.
He added that the judges’ decision had nothing to do with the PM vote, for which the public have been waiting for almost two months.
Pita said he would ensure that all 151 Move Forward MPs attend the session.
Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chanruangthong said Pheu Thai MPs had rehearsed the PM vote session for one last time before entering the session.
Speaking to reporters just before the session, he reaffirmed Pheu Thai’s stance to vote for Pita as the next prime minister. He said Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew would nominate Pita for the post.
Pheu Thai deputy leader Sutin Klungsang told reporters before entering the meeting room that he was not sure whether the PM vote would be done within one day or not, but his party would oppose any attempt to postpone the vote.
Amornrat Chokpamitkul, an aide to Move Forward’s Deputy House Speaker Padipat Suntiphada, said she led a group of Move Forward supporters to wait outside Parliament and monitor the vote because the people had a right to be there and did not want to monitor the situation via TV.
She expressed confidence in the police to prevent any clash between supporters of the Move Forward-led coalition and opponents. She noted that police had set up security measures around the Parliament Complex, including cargo containers and razor wire.
Democrat acting leader Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters before the meeting that the Democrats will abstain in the PM vote, as his party would not support anyone pushing to amend Article 112, or the lese majesty law.
He said he saw no reason for the PM vote to be postponed and was confident the rally outside Parliament would be peaceful.
Speaking just before the meeting started, United Thai Nation MP Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana confirmed his party’s stance not to vote for Pita, citing his policy to amend Article 112.
Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters before entering the meeting room that his party would wait to hear the debate before deciding how to vote at 5pm.
He said it would be best if the prime minister could be elected in just one round of voting.
In other news, Senator Renu Tangkhajiwangkul submitted her resignation, effective Wednesday.
Renu was an adviser to outgoing Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has announced he will withdraw from politics once a new PM is elected.