July 20, 2023
BANGKOK – Seven of the nine judges at the Constitutional Court ruled to suspend Move Forward Party leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat as an MP after they unanimously voted to accept a petition from the Election Commission (EC) against him for judicial review.
The court announced that Pita was suspended as a party-list MP until the court delivers its verdict in the case in which the EC accused Pita of being unqualified to contest the May 14 election for allegedly holding shares in media firm iTV Plc.
The suspension occurred as the House and Senate were scheduled to elect the next prime minister in a second round of voting Wednesday. The eight-party coalition reaffirmed its plan to resubmit Pita as its candidate for prime minister even though he failed to receive enough votes in the first round of voting last Thursday.
The decision immediately bars Pita from entering Parliament as an MP, but he can still be nominated as a PM candidate and attend a session voting on his candidacy.
Last Wednesday, the EC voted unanimously to invoke Article 82 of the Constitution to ask the Constitutional Court to annul Pita’s MP status on suspicion that he held 42,000 shares in iTV Plc when he applied in April to be a candidate for the May 14 election.
The court announced that the judges voted unanimously that the EC’s petition was supported by evidence that the defendant was unqualified to apply to be a candidate in the election and they consequently accepted the petition for judicial review.
Pita has 15 days to testify and submit evidence to the court in his defence.