This Progressive Thai Opposition Leader Has Been Suspended And Blocked From Being Prime Minister

In a dramatic day, Pita Limjaroenrat was suspended as a lawmaker and blocked from seeking the role of prime minister for a second time.

This Progressive Thai Opposition Leader Has Been Suspended And Blocked From Being Prime Minister

In a dramatic turn of events on Wednesday July 19, Pita Limjaroenrat, Thailand’s young, progressive opposition leader, was suspended and blocked from seeking the role of prime minister for a second time, likely ending hopes of him assuming the role.

Pita and his progressive Move Forward party had won the most votes during the general election in May, when voters rejected the military government, which had ruled since taking power in a coup in 2014.

However, Pita needed to be approved by the full National Assembly – which includes the military-backed senate – to become prime minister.

Pita had run on a campaign of promoting democracy, removing the military’s influence on politics and revising the lèse-majesté law, which jails people for criticizing the monarchy.

During the vote on Thursday July 13, he failed to garner enough votes from the full National Assembly to become prime minister.

pita limjaroenrat speech supporters thailand
Pita Limjaroenrat, Prime Ministerial candidate for the Move Forward Party, gives a speech for supporters on July 09, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

On Wednesday July 19, ahead of a parliamentary re-vote on prime minister, Pita was suspended as a member of parliament by the constitutional court over allegations of violating election laws by holding media shares.

After Pita left the chamber, the parliament then held another vote on whether he could run again, with lawmakers voting against Pita on the grounds that parliament’s rules do not permit a “repeat motion,” according to the New York Times.

Speaking before leaving the chamber, Pita said he would follow the suspension order and urged lawmakers to keep looking after the people.

thailand pita limjaroenrat blocked prime minister
Move Forward Party Leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat speaks to the media in Thai Parliament after the parliamentary vote for the premiership in Bangkok on July 13, 2023. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

“I think Thailand is not the same anymore ever since May 14,” he said. “We have come only halfway from the people’s victory, and there is another half to go. As I can no longer perform my duties, I would like to ask fellow members [of parliament] to continue to look after the people.”

The constitutional court had suspended Pita until it makes a ruling about whether he disclosed he owned media shares before running for office, which is mandatory under Thai law.

Pita has said that he did not break the law by owning media shares in iTV, a media company that has not operated since 2007, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday afternoon, Pita shared a photo of him leaving the chambers on Instagram, writing, “It’s clear now that in the current system, winning the people’s trust isn’t enough to run the country.”

Protests have broken out in Thailand following the day’s events, with Pita’s supporters saying that it is an attempt to keep him out of power.

Move Forward has said that the lawsuit does not impact Pita’s standing as the candidate for prime minister.

The next parliamentary vote on prime minister is scheduled for July 27, but it remains unclear whether Pita will be able to run again.

More On This

This Thai Activist Has Been Jailed For Two Years For Dressing Up Like The Thai Queen In A Satire Fashion Show
People In Thailand Have Voted Out The Military Government And Elected A Young, Progressive Party To Lead
This Thai Woman Was Sentenced To 43 Years In prison For Criticizing The Monarchy

Subscribe To The Almost Newsletter For More