Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday suspended Prime Ministerial candidate and leader of the Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat as an MP pending a ruling on his disqualification case submitted by the Election Commission.The court’s decision came after it received a complaint filed by the Commission that the 42-year-old Harvard graduate and former tech executive owned shares in a media company at the time of registering his election candidacy for the May 14 election, which violates electoral rules, reports Xinhua news agency.
In a written statement, the court confirmed that it had accepted the case and directed Pita to cease his parliamentary duties from Wednesday until a final ruling is reached.
Pita was required to provide an explanation of the allegation to the Constitutional Court within 15 days, according to the statement.
Under the country’s Constitutional Law, the Prime Minister does not necessarily have to be an MP.
In a joint session of the bicameral parliament on Wednesday, lawmakers are scheduled to make a second bid to elect a Prime minister, following last week’s unsuccessful initial attempt.
In a shock election result, Pita’s newcomer party won the most seats and largest share of the popular vote as citizens rejected the conservative military rule that had been in place since the 2014 coup.
The court had also filed a second complaint against him that involved Move Forward’s proposal to amend the draconian royal defamation law, which has jailed hundreds of critics of the monarchy.
Meanwhile, Pita has denied he broke election rules and a statement from Move Forward accused the Election Commission of rushing the case to court.
On July 11, outgoing Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had announced his retirement from politics after leading the Southeast Asian nation for nine years.
Prayut was elected Prime Minister in 2019, a win largely credited to a military-drafted constitution that entrenched the army’s power in politics.