The Pheu Thai Party will firmly oppose any change to the lese-majeste law if it leads a government, says prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin, adding that the shape of a Pheu Thai-led coalition has not been finalised.
If Pheu Thai nominates its prime ministerial candidate in the next joint sitting of the House and Senate on July 27, it will exclude the possibility of amending or revoking Section 112 of the Criminal Code, Mr Srettha said on Thursday.
“Otherwise it will not receive support from political parties and senators. … If we take the lead, this matter must stop,” he said.
Mr Srettha is believed to be the most likely nominee for prime minister after Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the election-winning Move Forward Party, failed to win a majority vote from the House and Senate on July 13. Opponents spoke out against Move Forward’s determination to change the lese-majeste law during the debate preceding the vote.
Mr Pita’s second attempt to win the job on Wednesday was aborted after lawmakers decided that parliamentary regulations prohibit a nomination from being repeated. This sets a precedent for future attempts by Mr Srettha or others.
The constitution allows the 249 unelected senators to jointly vote for a prime ministerial candidate together with 500 elected representatives.
Many senators have made it clear that they will not support a candidate from any coalition that includes Move Forward unless the latter takes Section 112 off the table.
However, Mr Srettha said he believes that if issues are discussed positively, senators should give firm support to a Pheu Thai-led administration.
Asked if that coalition would still include Move Forward, he said that would depend on negotiators.
For the time being, the former real estate tycoon said, he was honouring the promised intention of eight political parties to form the next government. Move Forward and Pheu Thai, with 292 seats combined, are two key components in the eight-party coalition alliance of 312 MPs.
Mr Srettha said he expected the eight parties would discuss coalition formation efforts again on Thursday evening or Friday.
Asked if Mr Pita’s effort to become prime minister had come to an end, Mr Srettha said it had, based on the relevant legal aspects.
He said he was disappointed with the joint sitting’s vote against the renomination of Mr Pita on Wednesday “but (we) must accept (it) and move on”.
As a prime ministerial candidate, Mr Srettha said, he must be prepared to push for economic development, while amending the constitution is also important.
In a related development, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, former secretary-general of the disbanded Future Forward Party, warned against a concerted effort to bar the MFP from government.
Writing on Facebook, he said it was necessary to prevent senators and 188 representatives from 10 other political parties from pressuring the coalition alliance to exclude the MFP in exchange for their votes in favour of a prime ministerial candidate.
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