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Thailand’s Prime Minister Vote Postponed Pending Constitutional Court Ruling

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The house speaker announced Tuesday that a vote to appoint a new prime minister scheduled for later this week in Thailand’s Parliament will be postponed, adding to growing uncertainty over when a new administration can take office more than two months after the general election.

Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, Speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters that the vote set for Thursday would be postponed pending a ruling from the Constitutional Court. The state ombudsman has sought the court to rule on whether it was legitimate to prevent Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat from running for prime minister a second time.

Pita lost his first vote in Parliament for the top job on July 13, and was prevented from running again last week after a procedural vote stated he couldn’t.

After two failed attempts, a coalition of Thai political parties says it will try again next week to persuade conservative parliamentary opponents to back it, and that it may contemplate dismissing its most progressive member who won the election in May.

Thailand’s Parliament voted down a second chance for the head of the progressive party that won first in the general election in May.

Thailand to Hold Another PM Vote on July 27, Pita Excluded

Pita Limjaroenrat the head of Thailand’s progressive party, which earned a surprise victory in the May polls, says he would run for prime minister again after being stopped last week by the country’s royalist and military establishment.

The Constitutional Court has not yet established a date for its judgement, according to Court President Worawit Kangsasitiam, who stated on Tuesday that the Ombudsman has electronically filed a petition seeking the court to rule on Mr Pita’s rejected renomination and to suspend the prime ministerial vote.

Mr Worawit stated that court personnel will spend two days reviewing the paper before passing it to a panel of judges to decide whether to accept it for deliberation – a five-day process.

Wan Noor also stated that postponing the vote will allow parliamentarians to attend King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s 71st birthday celebrations on Friday.

Pita led his progressive party to victory in the May election, forming an eight-party coalition that gained 312 seats in the 500-member lower chamber.

Thailand's Senate

However, confirming a new prime minister requires a majority of a joint vote with the 250-member Senate, and Pita’s original candidature fell short by more than 50 votes, owing partly to a lack of support from the Senate, with only 13 members supporting him.

Members of the Senate have declared they will not vote for Pita because of his party’s desire to alter a statute that makes defaming Thailand’s royal family illegal.

Critics claim that the law, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, has been utilised as a political tool. Members of the Senate are appointed by a military government rather than elected, and they regard themselves as defenders of traditional conservative royalist ideals.

Following last week’s vote to prevent Pita from running for re-election in Parliament, multiple complaints were filed with the state ombudsman, alleging that the action violated the constitution. Private persons and MPs from Pita’s party are among those who have lodged complaints.

Following the latest unsuccessful attempt, Pita’s coalition declared that its second largest member, the Pheu Thai Party, would select a candidate and take the lead in creating a government.

Srettha Thavisin, Thailand, Pheu Thai

Srettha Thavisin, a real estate billionaire; Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 military coup; and Chaikasem Nitsiri, the party’s chief strategist, are the party’s three prospective nominees.

Pheu Thai stated that the coalition will continue with its original members for the time being and strive to garner additional support from conservative legislators before the next vote, but he did not rule out the prospect of Move Forward being ousted from the coalition in order for it to establish the government.

Meanwhile, the meeting of the eight political groups hoping to establish a new government on Tuesday was abruptly cancelled.

Pheu Thai had convened the meeting to examine progress in gaining support for the nomination of a chosen prime minister.

Pheu Thai announced its termination to reporters via the LINE app early Tuesday afternoon. The message stated that the other seven parties had been notified.

According to sources, Pheu Thai apologised to all parties involved for the cancellation.

Pheu Thai said that its given responsibility of soliciting support from political parties other than the eight-party alliance, as well as senators, in a parliamentary vote to select the new prime minister had not progressed satisfactorily.

The move came after the Ombudsman decided on Monday to approach the court to rule on Mr Pita’s rejected renomination and to order parliament to postpone the Thursday prime ministerial vote.

Chaithawat Tulathon, secretary-general of the MFP, stated that Pheu Thai likely required additional time to draught a plan to give to the eight parties.

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