2nd PM vote faces delay risk

2nd PM vote faces delay risk

Ruling sought over Pita rejection

Pita: Renomination rejected
Pita: Renomination rejected

The next prime ministerial vote scheduled for Thursday might be postponed after the Ombudsman decided it should be suspended pending a Constitutional Court ruling on the rejected PM nomination of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat.

The Ombudsman on Monday asked the Constitutional Court to order parliament to postpone the next prime ministerial vote and rule on Mr Pita's rejected renomination.

Pol Lt Col Keerop Kritteeranont, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman, said 17 complaints had been filed objecting to parliament's resolution rejecting the renomination of Mr Pita for prime minister and declaring it a violation of their constitutional rights.

The complaints came from both members of the public and members of parliament, he said, with some complainants proposing that the court postpone the next parliamentary vote for prime minister pending a ruling by the court.

The Ombudsman has accordingly asked the court to postpone the prime ministerial vote by MPs and senators pending a ruling to prevent any damage that would be difficult to mend in the future, Pol Lt Col Keerop said.

MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulanon said earlier on Monday that the party had petitioned the Ombudsman to ask the Constitutional Court to rule if Mr Pita could be renominated. MFP MP for Nonthaburi Panyarut Nuntapusitanon later confirmed that she and 16 other MFP MPs had jointly filed one of the complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Speaking after the Ombudsman's move, House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said that a team of parliament lawyers had not yet concluded whether the PM vote should be postponed, adding the issue would also be raised at a meeting of the whips of the outgoing government, the opposition and the Senate on Wednesday.

"The outcome of a meeting today of the eight prospective coalition parties will also be taken into account," Mr Wan said.

Parliament on July 19 rejected the renomination of Mr Pita by a majority vote. His opponents argued that parliamentary regulation 41 bans resubmitting a failed motion during the same session, including Mr Pita's renomination. Mr Pita's supporters argued that the Mr Pita's nomination was not a general motion and should not be subject to regulation 41.

Some 115 law lecturers from 19 institutions on Monday expressed their opposition to parliament's passing of the resolution on July 19 to block the renomination of Mr Pita.

Senator Seree Suwanpanont on Monday suggested that Section 272 of the constitution be revoked to break the deadlock over the renomination of a PM candidate. Under the constitution, if a joint sitting of parliament fails to select a new premier from party candidate lists, Section 272 would trigger an alternative route.

In such a situation, half of the 750 MPs and senators can initiate a motion to suspend the rule requiring that PM candidates come from party lists, paving the way for an outsider to be selected.

"Such a motion requires the support of two-thirds of all lawmakers, or 500, to suspend the rule, allowing candidates either from the parties' lists or an outsider to be nominated for a vote," he said.

Mr Seree said that this means a PM candidate who was earlier rejected could also be renominated only if two-thirds of the lawmakers agree to suspend the rule.

Mr Seree said that Mr Pita could be renominated in this scenario, though the MFP leader now faces questioning over his eligibility due to shareholdings in iTV Plc.

Jarun Pukditanakul, a former Constitutional Court judge, said on Monday that the Constitutional Court has no authority to accept a petition submitted by the Ombudsman asking for a ruling on whether the parliament's rejection of Mr Pita's renomination based on regulation 41 is constitutional.

Mr Jarun said that the court can be asked to rule on the draft of a parliamentary regulation that is not enforced yet, but not an already enacted regulation.

Parliament's regulations are the business of the legislative branch, and the court has no authority to order parliament, the Senate or the House of Representatives to suspend a PM vote as requested by the Ombudsman, he said.

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