Thai Parliament vote to elect new PM postponed for third time

By Reuters: The speaker of Thailand’s Parliament postponed on Tuesday a vote for the next Prime Minister by the two houses of the legislature, media reported, as a political deadlock dragged on more than two months after a May general election.

The vote was scheduled for Thursday following two unsuccessful attempts by the leader of the election-winning Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat, to become Prime Minister because of the opposition of conservatives and nominated lawmakers to his party’s liberal agenda.

“There will be no meeting on July 27,” house speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha told The Reporters news website in an interview.

“I will inform later when the next vote will be.”

Voters rejected nearly 10 years of rule by the military and a military-backed government in the May election with Move Forward winning the most seats. Another opponent of military rule, the populist Pheu Thai party, came second.

But under a constitution drafted during military rule, members of a military-appointed Senate also vote for the Prime Minister and Pita failed to win the necessary majority in a joint sitting of both houses.

Pheu Thai, which is backed by the self-exiled former telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, was expected to nominate its candidate for premier this week, as part of an eight-party alliance that includes Move Forward.

Wan Noor said the postponement was partly due to a petition to review a decision to block the re-nomination of Pita as a prime ministerial candidate on July 19.

The independent ombudsman’s office petitioned the Constitutional Court to review that decision, saying parliamentary regulation could not trump constitutional rules on nominating a prime minister, after a request by Move Forward.

Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets in recent days to denounce the Senate for blocking Pita’s path to power. The demonstrations have been peaceful.

Wan Noor said the next vote would be on August 3 if the court does not take up the ombudsman’s request.

A meeting of the alliance scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled, and Pheu Thai lawmaker Sutin Klangsaeng said that talks between the eight parties were underway to find a way forward.

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