The Election Commission has thrown out three complaints related to media share ownership against Move Forward Party (MFP) leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat — but he is far from in the clear.
The commission now plans to investigate whether Mr Pita applied to be a list-MP candidate despite knowing he might not have been eligible to run for a House seat. That would be a violation of Section 42(3) and Section 151 of the organic law on the election of MPs, an EC source said.
The six commissioners decided unanimously on Friday not to accept the complaints alleging a breach of the media shareholding rules, as they were lodged after the qualifications of election candidates had been examined.
However, because the petitions contain certain facts regarding Mr Pita’s qualifications that could be looked into further, the EC will seek to determine if he sought to run even while knowing he might get disqualified.
It is not known how long the investigation will take.
Friday’s decision brings to an end weeks of speculation about whether holding a small number of shares in iTV Plc — a TV broadcaster that had not carried on any media activity for more than a decade — would disqualify Mr Pita.
Move Forward finished first in last month’s election with 151 seats, 10 more than the Pheu Thai Party. They and six other parties have combined to form a 313-member coalition that is hoping to become the next government.
Mr Pita is his party’s sole choice for prime minister. If he is disqualified as an MP, he could still be nominated for the premiership as a prime minister does not have to be an MP.
His supporters have urged the Election Commission to dismiss the complaints against him and speed up the process of endorsing MPs-elect so that the coalition can get down to work.
The poll body has 60 days from Election Day, or until July 13, to certify at least 95% of all MPs-elect to make the vote results official. It has said it expects to complete its task more quickly than it did in 2019, when the process took 45 days.
The EC on Thursday ordered recounts to be held at 47 polling stations in 16 provinces, but has said they would not materially affect the results. However, it is still looking into numerous complaints involving some 20 winning candidates as well.