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Election

Bhumjaithai’s Anutin says he won’t support a PM dependent on the senate vote

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Bhumjaithai’s Anutin says he won’t support a PM dependent on the senate vote | The Thaiger

Anutin Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai leader, has made it clear that his party will not support a PM candidate who does have the backing from a simple majority of MPs in Parliament.

Bhumjaithai, coming fifth in sheer MP numbers following the March 24 election (behind Pheu Thai, Palang Pracharat, Future Forward and the Democrats), has become a king-maker in the jockeying for MP votes to form a workable coalition in the Thai lower house of Parliament.

Anutin, who continues to play his cards close to his chest and maintained ‘neutrality’ in the current round of informal negotiations, said yesterday that no Bhumjaithai MP would vote for a candidate who relied on the Senate to become the head of the government.

Both Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharat maintain they have the numbers to form government, while the Democrat Party and Bhumjaithai say they won’t be declaring their hand until at least Friday (Democrats) and next Tuesday (Bhumjaithai).

The anti-junta bloc (led by Pheu Thai and Future Forward) has 245 seats and its rivals 135.

And despite being more than 100 MPs short of a simple majority in Parliament, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the PM candidate of Phalang Pracharat, said yesterday that the party’s government formation process was ongoing. As the negotiations were mainly about the distribution of Cabinet seats, Prayut admitted that the party was considering how to allocate ministerial positions.

11 minor parties, who will also be part of the lower house, announced yesterday they will join Phalang Pracharat to form a government and back Prayut’s bid to return as PM, but their votes only cover 11 seats out of a total of 500 parliamentary seats in the Thai lower house.

Meanwhile, the anti-junta Future Forward Party, which opposes Prayut’s return to power, remained hopeful that they could still block the general. Though some 11 minor parties have revealed their stance in favour of Prayut, Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said yesterday that it was still possible to gather some 375 MPs to vote for a PM against the junta-appointed Senate and the minority MPs.

(The next prime minister will likely be selected by a joint sitting of the lower house and Junta-appointed Senate: 500 lower house votes plus 250 Senate votes – so any bloc would need at least 375 votes to have the power to select the PM).

Future Forward’ Thanathorn said he was talking to different parties, including Democrat and Bhumjaitai, to join the anti-junta camp. He did not reveal how the negotiations were going.

Meanwhile Bhumjaithai leader Anutin yesterday told the press that the party had not discussed anything with Phalang Pracharat about setting up a government.

SOURCE: The Nation



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Thanathorn is able to attend this afternoon’s opening of Parliament

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Thanathorn is able to attend this afternoon’s opening of Parliament | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, heading to the opening of Parliament today?

Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been told he can attend the opening of parliament today by His Majesty the King in the conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But the 41 year old leader of Future Forward is yet to confirm his attendance after being told yesterday he would not be able to be part of the opening proceedings.

Sorasak Pienwech, the secretary-general of the House of Representatives, says his office is yet to receive a formal order from the Constitutional Court temporarily suspending Thanathorn’s parliamentary membership so, as far as they’re concerned, he is still a member of parliament and is permitted to attend today’s opening at 3pm.

The Constitutional Court voted 8:1 yesterday to suspend Thanathorn’s parliamentary membership after it unanimously voted to accept the Election Commission’s media share ownership case against him.

As for the meeting of MPs tomorrow, in the conference hall of TOT Company on Chaengwattana road, he said Thanathorn can attend because he has not yet taken an oath as constitutionally mandated.

After the oath-taking ceremony, however, he will have to stop performing his duties as an MP and will have to leave the meeting, according to Mr. Sorasak.

Informed sources said that Mr. Pornpektch Wichitcholachai, former president of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly, will be nominated as the only candidate and he is likely to be elected the Senate speaker because of his close connection with the junta, especially Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Election

Thanathorn forced to sit out Parliament opening today amid media share controversy

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thanathorn forced to sit out Parliament opening today amid media share controversy | The Thaiger

“This is not the time to lose hope. It’s the time to stand against injustice.” – Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the Election Commission’s plea to disqualify Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from the House of Representatives over his alleged shareholding in media company V-Luck.

The judges voted 9-0 to hear the case, and suspended the anti-junta politician from serving as an MP, a day before Parliament opens after the March 24 election.

Thanathorn has 15 days after receiving the court notice to provide his defence against the allegation.

The EC took the case to charter court, seeking rulings on whether Thanathorn’s membership in the House of Representatives should be terminated and whether he should be suspended from office in the meantime.

The EC petition claimed that Thanathorn held shares in V-Luck, which publishes celebrity magazine Who?, even after he had applied to contest in the general election.

Thanathorn and Future Forward Party had claimed that more than 900,000 shares had been transferred |to his mother, Somporn Juangroongruangkit, in January, a month before the MP candidate registration opened.

The share transfer document also showed the transaction was completed on January 8 but the controversy arose as the business development department recognised the shareholder change only on March 21 – three days before the election. This raised the question if Thanathorn was a shareholder of the media company even after becoming an MP candidate.

MP candidates are prohibited from holding shares in media companies under the Constitution. If found violating the law, the MP’s membership in the lower house should be terminated, the supreme law states.

Once the case was accepted by the Constitutional Court, it also had the jurisdiction to suspend the accused MP from work until a ruling was made.

As a result of the suspension, Thanathorn cannot enter Parliament and will miss the opportunity to vote for the head and the deputies of the House of Representatives as well as the prime minister despite his success in the election.

Critics see the possibility of Thanathorn being disqualified, as a first step to disband the highly popular Future Forward Party and weaken the anti-junta bloc. If the court rules that Thanathorn was not qualified to stand as an MP candidate, the party could also be charged with approving an unqualified candidate, paving the way for its dissolution.

Thanathorn yesterday held a press conference, saying Future Forward’s fight against the current regime continued despite the current development against them.

Though his MP status was hanging by a thread, the anti-junta politician said his PM candidacy remained. He was ready to be the PM and lead the coalition.

“This is not the time to lose hope. It’s the time to stand against injustice,” Thanathorn said. “Future Forward MPs remain hopeful. I urge everyone to be hopeful, too.”

The suspension may bar him from Parliament, but Thanathorn said he would continue to work as the people’s representative even outside Parliament.

While disagreeing with the court’s decision, Thanathorn questioned if the process initiated by the EC had been lawful.

He said the EC agreed to take the case to the court even before a subcommittee had completed its investigation. The committee was trying to summon concerned individuals to provide information about the case even after the case had been sent to the Constitutional Court.

The anti-junta politician also called out the EC for rushing to pursue legal action against him. In comparison, in a similar case against Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, the poll authority took more than 400 days to approach the court, he said.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Election

Coalition talks. And then there were…. THREE

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Coalition talks. And then there were…. THREE | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Facebook page of Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul

With HM The King opening parliament on May 24, it is hoped that the political horse-trading may be over when the new lower house sits for the first time. The two parties that hold the key to a workable majority coalition are the Democrats and Bhumjaithai. They have been prevaricating for more than a month about which way they are leaning – pro-Junta or pro-democracy.

With neither side having enough MPs to form a coalition, speculation has increased that the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties could perform a “kingmaker” role. Photos from a working lunch today indicate they’re certainly in active talks to break the current deadlock.

The two parties together hold 103 seats in the House of Representatives, 148 short of a majority but enough to gain leverage against the rival coalitions.

The Democrats and Bhumjaithai won 52 and 51 MPs, respectively, but both remained undecided on which camp to join in the Parliament.

On Tuesday, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul posted photos on Facebook of a working dinner with Democrat’s secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on and Prachuabkirikhan MP Montri Panoynon.

“We’re working here, not just dining. It’s exactly like what we’ve said before,” Anutin wrote.

The photos showed the trio sharing a meal and Anutin and Chalermchai shaking hands, smiling.

This raised questions about whether the two parties would create an alliance to help form a coalition to end the political deadlock.

SOURCE: The Nation

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