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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Thai court docket says well-liked politician Pita Limjaroenrat did not violate legislation, can stay a lawmaker

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s Constitutional Courtroom dominated Wednesday that well-liked progressive politician Pita Limjaroenrat, who was blocked from changing into prime minister though his occasion positioned first in final yr’s election, didn’t violate the election legislation and might retain his seat in Parliament.

Pita had been suspended from the legislature pending the court docket’s ruling on whether or not he violated the legislation by proudly owning shares in a media firm. He was the executor of his father’s property which included inventory in ITV, an organization that’s the inactive operator of a defunct unbiased tv station.

The court docket agreed with Pita’s competition that ITV was not an operator of a media enterprise.

By legislation, political candidates are prohibited from proudly owning shares in any media firm once they register to contest an election.

The ruling clears one hurdle for Pita’s progressive Transfer Ahead Celebration in stepping up its actions to place itself to win energy within the subsequent election, constructing on the plurality it received final yr.

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Current polls recommend that the recognition of Pita and his occasion stays sturdy, effectively forward of present Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his populist Pheu Thai occasion, which completed second within the election.

Pita was pressured to step down as chief of Transfer Ahead when he was suspended from Parliament.

The occasion’s election victory final yr mirrored a surprisingly sturdy mandate for change amongst Thai voters after practically a decade of military-controlled authorities. However the occasion was denied energy by members of the conservative unelected Senate, who have been overtly hostile to Transfer Ahead’s proposals to contemplate delicate reforms affecting the monarchy.

The Senate, whose members have been appointed by the army, joined the elected decrease home in casting votes to decide on a first-rate minister underneath a structure that was adopted in 2017 underneath a army authorities. The Transfer Ahead Celebration now heads the opposition in Parliament.

The nine-member panel of judges dominated 8-1 in Pita’s favor on Wednesday.

“ITV didn’t function any newspapers or media companies, due to this fact, the shareholding didn’t violate the Structure’s Article 98. In response to the above reasoning, the accused member’s parliamentary standing isn’t suspended,” the ruling mentioned.

“I’m joyful and can hold working as deliberate,” Pita mentioned after the decision.

About 40 supporters who had gathered outdoors the court docket with indicators and flowers cheered Pita as he walked out.

“There’s justice for the folks. At first, I did not belief the court docket however now I see justice,” mentioned Jiraporn Bussawaket, 76.

The ruling will enable Pita to run once more as a candidate for prime minister, mentioned Parinya Thewanaruemitkun, a authorized skilled at Thammasat College.

He famous that the time period of the presently serving military-appointed senators expires in Could, opening up a possibility for Pita to take the job he was denied final yr if Prime Minister Srettha leaves workplace.

Nevertheless, Pita nonetheless faces one other severe authorized problem this month.

On Jan. 31, he’s to look once more within the Constitutional Courtroom in a separate case wherein he and his occasion are accused of trying to overthrow Thailand’s system of presidency by proposing an modification to a legislation that makes it unlawful to defame Thailand’s royal household, an offense referred to as lese majeste.

Critics say the legislation, which carries a penalty of as much as 15 years in jail, is usually abused as a political weapon.

The monarchy is taken into account by many individuals to be central to Thai id, and conservative Thais insist that it have to be protected.

Whereas the grievance solely calls on Transfer Ahead to cease selling an modification of the legislation, its present chief, Chaithawat Tulathon, has mentioned an unfavorable ruling may very well be utilized in future {cases} towards the occasion that would result in its dissolution. Transfer Ahead’s predecessor, the Future Ahead Celebration, was dissolved by a Constitutional Courtroom ruling in 2020.

Transfer Ahead’s supporters have criticized the {cases} as soiled tips just like ones which have lengthy been employed by the ruling conservative institution to oust political rivals, utilizing the courts and nominally unbiased state businesses such because the Election Fee as authorized weapons.

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