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Lawyer Pushes for Move Forward Party Dissolution Over Article 112

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Lawyer Pushes for Move Forward Party Dissolution Over Article 112

The Move Forward party, which won the most seats in Thailand’s General Election on May 14th is now facing new legal challenges as political parties wrangle for power in the Kingdom. Eight days after Move Forward won a historic victory an establishment lawyer submitted a legal complaint to the Election Commission

Attorney Theerayuth Suwankaesorn filed a legal protest with the Election Commission encouraging the body to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on whether Move Forward’s proposal to modify article 112, the lese majeste or royal insult legislation, which punishes insults of the king and other members of the royal family, weakens the monarchy.

“The party’s plan could erode, damage, or undermine the key national institution,” Mr. Theerayuth told reporters on Monday, having earlier filed a complaint against the leaders of Future Forward, the party that preceded Move Forward. According to him, a verdict against the party might lead to its dissolution.

The complaint, which has not yet been formally accepted by the Election Commission, comes just hours before Move Forward’s leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, and the leaders of seven other parties are set to sign an agreement to continue negotiations to form a government following the May 14 election.

Thailand, Government,Lese Majeste Law

Move Forward’s pledge to push for changes to the lese majeste law, also known as Article 112, has emerged as a key dividing line between different political parties as it attempts to form a governing coalition with a coalition of eight parties that won 313 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives.

While pro-democracy parties won the election, they face inherent challenges since the constitution, which was passed in the aftermath of a military coup in 2014, permits the unelected 250-member Senate to vote alongside the lower house to select a new leader. That means Mr Pita’s alliance is still short of the 376 votes needed in parliament to become Prime Minister without the approval of the Senate.

Many members of the Senate, including allies of caretaker Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s pro-military establishment and other conservative parties, have opposed Mr Pita’s candidature for the top job.

The Bhumjaithai Party, which placed third with 70 seats, has already ruled out backing Mr Pita for prime minister, stating that it will not support a candidate from a party that plans to modify Article 112. The conservative Democrat Party has not yet discussed its position on Pita’s quest for prime minister, but it opposes altering the law banning royal insults, according to party spokesman Ramate Rattanachaweng on Monday.

The Election Commission has 60 days after the vote to produce official election results and certify 95% of the lower house seats, according to the law. The new parliament’s first session must then take place within 15 days. The deadline is now set for late July.

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Chaithawat Tulathon, the secretary-general of Move Forward, said over the weekend that he was optimistic the party could win over some senators, adding that an agreement to be signed by the parties in a briefing slated for 4.30pm local time on Monday will influence Senate members to vote for Pita.

The push to directly change laws affecting the monarchy breaks a long-standing taboo in Thailand, where even the suggestion of disloyalty to the palace in the past has been grounds for the military to stage a coup, leading to a series of deadly street protests that have slowed Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

While there are differences of opinion within Mr Pita’s alliance, deputy party leader Sirikanya Tansakul told local media over the weekend that Move Forward’s desire to modify the law isn’t a deal breaker. Support for the party’s plan to modify Article 112 would not be a criterion for entering its coalition, she said, and Move Forward will keep its promise to offer the modification for debate in parliament.

Another lawyer filed a complaint with the Election Commission earlier this month, alleging that Mr Pita violated election rules by owning stock in a bankrupt media business. Mr Pita has stated that he is unconcerned by the claim, which could result in his disqualification as a member of parliament, because the shares are part of an estate he administers and he does not directly own them.


Meanwhile, senator Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan said on social media on Sunday that demonstration (UFTD) in front of parliament to persuade senators to vote for Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister could backfire.

Khunying Porntip stated on her Instagram account that she was speaking out as a former state official, senator, and Thai citizen.

She stated that, while many of Move Forward’s objectives presented to the public prior to the election sounded reasonable if they could be implemented, one thing the party should not touch is the monarchy.

However, the UFTD, which arranged the march in support of Mr Pita, had already stated ten requests during an event on Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on August 10, 2020. According to Khunying Porntip, the requests indicated their hostility against the monarchy.

She claimed that the planned march on Tuesday demonstrated that those behind the UFTD intended to tread on the hearts of Thais who support the royal institution.

“Do not underestimate the power of people who can come out to protect the royal institution,” warned Khunying Porntip.

She stated that while the Move Forward Party could win the election, it could not claim to represent the majority of Thais.

Khunying Porntip claimed that it was the anti-monarchy elements backing Mr Pita who would deprive him of the chance to become Prime Minister.

Thailand’s Senators Oppose Move Forward Party’s PM Candidate

Thailand’s Senators Oppose Move Forward Party’s PM Candidate

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