The Move Forward Party (MFP) has announced its decision to step back and allow the Pheu Thai Party to take charge of forming a government, MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon announced on Friday.
Mr Chaithawat said that even though Move Forward and Pheu Thai secured the first and second positions, respectively, in terms of MP numbers in the May 14 general election, reflecting the people's desire for a new government comprising parties outside the former government bloc, the conservative side and its allies had made efforts to prevent the MFP from forming a government.
He said Move Forward's main objective is not to have its leader Pita Limjaroenrat become the next prime minister.
"Our mission is to form a government of the democracy side under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by eight parties," Mr Chaithawat said.
With Mr Pita having been blocked twice from being selected, Move Forward has now decided to give Pheu Thai the opportunity, he said.
In the next parliament meeting on July 27 to select the prime minister, Move Forward would nominate a candidate from Pheu Thai for the position, while Pheu Thai could also nominate a candidate of their choice, Mr Chaithawat said.
According to the MFP secretary-general, during the past two months, the conservative side utilised various mechanisms, including politicians, monopolistic groups and organisations, to impede Move Forward from setting up a government. They cited Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, and loyalty to the royal institution as pretexts to take legal actions against the MFP and its core members, aiming to dissolve the party and revoke their political rights.
Most of the senators had not only voted against the people's wish but also voted in support of a parliamentary meeting regulation in violation of the charter to block Mr Pita again in the second round of voting.
"Use of such a parliamentary meeting regulation is unacceptable to the MFP. The conservative bloc had coordinated the work of its mechanisms to prevent Move Forward forming a government," Mr Chaithawat said.
"The MFP has a firm stance: 'If there are the uncles, there is no us' (a reference to outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon)," said Mr Chaithawat. "We always make our position clear and could not break our promise given to people. As for the anticipated party dissolution, we cannot be careless because we clearly see that Thailand is not in the normal legal system."
“We have to apologise to the people and frankly admit that they (those in power) do not want Move Forward to be a core party to form a government," said the MFP secretary-general. "Just because Mr Pita could not become the prime minister, this does not mean that our mission to set up the government and drive out the old power cliques will not be successful."
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat raises his fist to fellow MFP MPs as he leaves the parliament chamber on Wednesday afternoon after the Constitutional Court had suspended him from MP duty pending its ruling on his eligibility to run for political office over shareholding in defunct media company iTV Plc. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
On Wednesday, the joint sitting of parliament voted to reject the re-nomination of Mr Pita on the grounds that parliamentary session regulation No. 41 prohibited the resubmission of a failed motion during the same parliamentary session.
A total of 394 parliamentarians, most of them unelected senators, voted against Mr Pita’s renomination, 312 voted to support it, eight abstained and one did not exercise the right to vote.
They argued that an earlier motion regarding Mr Pita's nomination was already rejected by parliament on July 13, when he failed to win a majority vote in the first round.
After Wednesday's voting, legal experts, including Borwornsak Uwanno, former chairman of a constitution drafting committee, raised doubt over the constitutionality of using this regulation to reject the election-winner's renomination.
Earlier, the MFP submitted a proposal to parliament seeking to strip the military-appointed senators of their power to co-select the prime minister.
The move to revoke Section 272 of the charter, which allows the 250-member Senate to join the process of selection a prime minister, came after Mr Pita failed to muster enough support to back his bid to land the job.