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This Progressive Thai Opposition Politician Who Was Blocked From Being Prime Minister Has Been Found Not Guilty Of Violating Election Laws

Thailand's constitutional court said it had suspended Pita to rule on whether he had disclosed he owned shares in a media company before running for office.

Pita Limjaroenrat, the young progressive Thai opposition leader who was blocked from being prime minister has been found not guilty of violating election laws.

prime ministerial candidate Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat no guilty thailand
Former Thai prime ministerial candidate and ex-Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat (C) gestures as he is surrounded by media outside the Constitutional Court in Bangkok. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

The 43-year-old and his progressive Move Forward party had won the most votes during the general election in May 2023, when voters rejected the military government, which had ruled since taking power in a coup in 2014.

Thailand move forward pita limjaroenrat
Pita Limjaroenrat (C), prime minister candidate and leader of the Move Forward Party greets his supporters during the rally. (Photo by Varuth Pongsapipatt/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Pita had run on a campaign of promoting democracy, removing the military’s influence on politics and revising the lèse-majesté law, which jails people for criticizing the monarchy.

thailand prime minister protest vote
A Thai protester points a finger at the Thai military during an anti-coup protests as General Prayuth receives the Royal Endorsement as the military coup leader in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

However, he was suspended from parliament and blocked from seeking the role of prime minister for allegedly violating election laws.

pita limjaroenrat thailand pride 2023
Move Forward Party leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat (C) takes part in the Pride March event in Bangkok. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP) (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s parliament then approved Srettha Thavisin, a real estate developer, as its prime minister, instead.

supporter of Pita Limjaroenrat celebrates Constitutional Court thailand
A supporter of former Thai prime ministerial candidate and ex-Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat celebrates outside the Constitutional Court in Bangkok. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

The constitutional court said it had suspended Pita to rule on whether he had disclosed he owned shares in a media company before running for office, which is mandatory under Thai law.

pheu thai srettha thavisin elected
Srettha Thavisin, a candidate for prime minister of the Phue Thai Party speaks to the media during a press conference at the Phue Thai party headquarter after he was elected as the 30th Prime Minister of Thailand. (Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But Pita said that he had informed authorities that he owned less than 0.1% of shares in iTV, a media company that has not operated since 2007.

pita limjaroenrat thailand prime minister
Move Forward Party Leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat speaks to the media in Thai Parliament after the parliamentary vote for the premiership in Bangkok. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

On Wednesday Jan. 24, the court found that Pita had not broken the law as iTV was not operating when he submitted his name for election.

thailand pita limjaroenrat national assembly
Move Forward Party Leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat (C) speaks inside the parliament chamber before the vote to decide the country’s next prime minister in Bangkok. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Pita, who resigned as party leader in September, will now be able to be reinstated as a member of the parliament.

ex Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat thailand
Former Thai prime ministerial candidate and ex-Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat speaks to media as he leaves a hearing regarding his ownership of media shares at the Constitutional Court in Bangkok. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Speaking after the verdict, Pita said he was eager to get back to work and serve the people as soon as possible.

pita limjaroenrat speech supporters thailand
Pita Limjaroenrat, Prime Ministerial candidate for the Move Forward Party, gives a speech for supporters. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

However, he and Move Forward are facing another case in the constitutional court for their plan to reform the lèse-majesté law and whether that constitutes attempting to overthrow the king.

thailand king vajiralongkorn queen suthida
This screengrab from Thai TV Pool video taken on May 1, 2019 shows a ceremony in which Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn “legally married” Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya in Bangkok. (Photo credit should read THAI TV POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

A ruling is expected on Jan. 31, but if found guilty, Pita would be banned from politics and Move Forward would have to be dissolved.

thailand Pita Limjaroenrat Move Forward Party leader Prime Ministerial candidate
Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward Party leader and Prime Ministerial candidate, greets fans during a celebratory parade after winning the most seats in the Thai General Election in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

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