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Bangkok, July 13 – The Thai parliament will vote for a new Prime Minister on Thursday, in a ballot seen as a litmus test for reformist Pita Limjaroenrat who won the May general elections after voters rejected conservative military rule that had been in place since the 2014 coup.
In a shock election result, Pita’s newcomer party Move Forward won the most seats and largest share of the popular vote, CNN reported.
But the 42-year-old Harvard graduate and former tech executive will need the support of lawmakers appointed by the same military leaders to secure a majority.
His alliance has 312 votes, which is 64 short of the 376 votes required to be elected Prime Minister.
In Thailand, a party or coalition needs to win a majority of 376 seats in both lower and upper houses of parliament — 750 seats — to elect a Prime Minister and form a government.
Also in a major setback, the country’s Constitutional Court Wednesday accepted two complaints against the party and Pita.
The case is set to be reviewed next week and if it moves to trial, Pita will be suspended from political duty.
One of the complaints, forwarded to the court by the Election Commission, accuses Pita of violating election law for allegedly holding shares in a media company and requested he be disqualified, reports CNN.
The other complaint involves Move Forward’s proposal to amend the draconian royal defamation law, which has jailed hundreds of critics of the monarchy.
He has denied he broke election rules and a statement from Move Forward accused the Election Commission of rushing the case to court.
Ahead of Thursday’s parliament session, outgoing Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday announced his retirement from politics after leading the Southeast Asian nation for nine years, the BBC reported.
Prayut was elected Prime Minister in 2019, a win largely credited to a military-drafted constitution that entrenched the army’s power in politics.