- Parliament is discussing the nomination of PETA
- Climb the mountain to become a PM
- A party says the suspension will not affect the prime minister’s candidacy
- Beta anticipates ‘pre-planned’ obstacles
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Constitutional Court ordered the temporary suspension of prime minister-nominated lawmaker Peta Limjaroonrat on Wednesday, making its announcement as parliament reconvened for what may be his last chance to take over as prime minister.
The court’s decision came after accepting a case alleging that PETA, the leader of the election-winning Movement Forward party, is ineligible to run in the May 14 elections because he owns shares in a media company, in violation of election rules.
The 42-year-old US-educated Pita liberal lost his initial bid for prime minister in a parliamentary vote last week and needs the support of more than half of the bicameral parliament to become the next prime minister.
He must overcome fierce resistance from rivals who run counter to his party’s anti-establishment ambitions, including a royalist-appointed senator who rejected a PETA in his initial bid.
It was not immediately clear if the court’s announcement would stymie Wednesday’s vote, as lawmakers are still debating the PETA nomination.
Parliamentary rules written by the military after the 2014 coup that skewed in its favor make it extremely difficult for PETA to form a government with the eight-party coalition it continues to support.
The court decision, the second active case involving Peta, came as lawmakers debated whether to allow Peta to compete in a second vote for the premiership, which political rivals said has already been rejected.
Peta argued that he had not broken any rules by owning shares in media company iTV because it had not been involved in media operations in years. The court said in a statement that he had 15 days to respond to the comment.
Move Forward said the court’s ruling had no impact on the proceedings.
“According to the law, Beta remains a candidate for prime minister,” she added, urging people to follow the televised debate.
PETA has a mountain to climb to become prime minister, and Wednesday’s double challenge from his political enemies and the court were obstacles he was expecting.
He said in an interview on Tuesday with Reuters that those moves were “pre-planned”, questioned the timing and described the Royal Army’s efforts to thwart him as a “broken record”.
Thailand has been running a caretaker administration since March and it has been 65 days since the Move Forward movement’s stunning election victory over military-backed parties after nine years of rule dominated by generals.
(Reporting) By Banarat Thepjumpanat, Pannu Wongcha-Om, and Chayot Setbunsareng; Writing by Martin Beatty; Edited by Robert Purcell
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