Thailand court suspends Move Forward leader from parliament before PM vote

Thailand’s constitutional court has suspended the leader of the country’s most popular and progressive party from parliament, after accepting a case alleging he was unqualified to run in May’s election.

The announcement came as Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of Move Forward, was due to contest a parliamentary vote to become prime minister. The case centres on claims that Pita was ineligible to run in the election as he owned media shares – an allegation that Pita denies. He is temporarily suspended pending a court ruling, and has 15 days to respond, the court said in a statement. Police were lined up outside parliament, Thai media reported.

The suspension does not affect Pita’s ability to be nominated to run for prime minister, as it is not necessary for candidates to be an MP. However the announcement adds to the many problems facing his party, which is strongly opposed by political rivals aligned with the conservative military establishment and royalists, and is facing an uphill battle to take power despite success in May’s election.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Pita confirmed he had a document from the court regarding his suspension and said he would follow the order.

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Thailand, politics, election