08/04/2023, 15.19
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After vote for PM postponed, new Thai government in limbo, Thaksin’s return uncertain

by Steve Suwannarat

Thailand’s National Assembly is waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on a petition that can seal the fate of the Move Forward leader Pita Limcharoenrat. The For Thais party is in talks with other parties after its alliance with Pita’s party unravelled. Former Prime Minister Shinawatra is not likely to return soon.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Speaker of the Thai House of Representatives (lower house), Wan Muhamad Noor, has again delayed a vote to pick a new prime minister, pending a decision by Constitutional Court on a petition that questioned the constitutionality of a parliamentary resolution blocking the Move Forward (Phak Kao Klai) Party from nominating its candidate for prime minister for a second round of voting.

Move Forward has the largest number of seats in the coalition that won last May’s election to the lower house, and can legitimately aspire to take power from pro-military parties who have governed since 2019.

Some lawmakers question the Court’s decision that is effectively blocking the nomination of its leader Pita Limcharoenrat to the post of prime minister.

Under Thailand’s current constitutional framework – imposed by the military in 2017, five years after they seized power in a coup – a democratic alternative is almost impossible.

On 12 July, the winning coalition unanimously proposed Pita for the office of prime minister, but failed to reach a 50+1 majority in a joint session of Thailand’s National Assembly, defeated by a combined vote of the outgoing coalition, which includes elected representatives and most military-appointed senators.

A week later, Move Forward and its junior partner, the For Thais (Pheu Thai) Party, failed to agree to submit Pita’s name again. This made his candidacy impractical, despite doubts about the constitutionality of the whole process.

The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the petition on 16 August, but whatever its decision, it is unlikely to change Pita’s fate since the Election Commission referred him for disqualification over an alleged conflict of interests.

This has snowballed in the past few days, as the For Thais Party ended its alliance with Move Forward, sparking a round of talks among party leaders to patch together a new coalition that could obtain a majority in the National Assembly, even with the support of political rivals.

Any decision on any new coalition will wait until the Constitutional Court announces its ruling.

Nevertheless, the uncertainty of the situation and the ongoing negotiations – mostly informally, but sometimes secret – between certain political parties and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, make it impossible for the latter to return on 10 August. This will probably have  heavy and unpredictable consequences.

Thaksin went into voluntary exile in 2008. When in power, his policies proved controversial, popular among the poorer classes but strongly disliked by the pro-monarchy establishment, the military, and the large oligopolies.

While many of the charges against the former prime minister were dropped, he still faces legal jeopardy and could be put in prison for several years.

In the absence of an agreement on his fate and safety negotiated by the For Thais Party, which he founded and de facto still leads, even from abroad, he can hardly come back and risk his personal liberty.

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Thailand’s Pita falls short of a majority after parliament rejects election results
13/07/2023 18:04
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