EC to determine if Pita sought to run despite knowing he was not qualified

  • The Election Commission (EC) has dismissed on technical grounds petitions filed against Pita Limjaroenrat, leader and prime ministerial candidate of the Move Forward Party (MFP), regarding his qualification to contest the 14 May election. But the agency is going ahead with its inquiry to determine if Pita sought to run despite knowing he was not qualified.
  • The EC ruled that Ruangkrai’s petitions were filed after the legal deadline, but found that certain facts warrant further investigation – particularly the question of whether Pita contested the election despite being aware he was not qualified.
  • Some analysts say the latest EC move holds potentially worse legal consequences for Pita and MFP than the initial complaints filed by political activist and serial petitioner Ruangkrai Leekitwattana. It also indicates that the EC believes there is merit in the earlier complaints, they add.
  • If the EC investigation finds grounds for legal action against Pita, the agency can send the case to the Constitutional Court to rule on his constitutional status, and the Criminal Court for a verdict on his qualifications as per the electoral law, analysts say.
  • If either court accepts the case for trial, Pita could be suspended from duty as an MP and excluded from the parliamentary vote for a new prime minister, they say.
  • Former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said the EC approach could land Pita in even deeper trouble as it involved criminal penalties and a 20-year ban from politics. He also pointed out that the EC decision to pursue the criminal case against Pita could serve as an excuse for senators planning not to vote for him as the next prime minister.
  • In a recent Facebook post, Somchai wrote that despite the EC rejecting Ruangkrai’s petitions, a case against Pita can still be filed with the Constitutional Court if a minimum of 50 MPs or 25 senators seek a verdict on his MP status.

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