Activists demand court drop complaints against Pita, Move Forward

As the Constitutional Court prepares to deliberate petitions filed against the Move Forward Party (MFP) for campaigning to amend the royal defamation law and against its leader Pita Limjaroenrat for holding media shares, activist groups have called on the Court to drop the petitions.

The Committee Campaigning for a People’s Constitution (CCPC)'s representatives behind police barricade waiting to file their petition with a court official.

On 12 July, the Constitutional Court accepted two petitions filed against MFP and Pita. One was filed by the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), asking the Court to rule whether to disqualify Pita for holding shares in the broadcasting company iTV and whether to suspend him while the Court deliberates on the case, even though iTV is no longer operating as a media provider.

Another petition against MFP was filed by lawyer Theerayut Suwankesorn for campaigning to repeal the royal defamation law, asking the court to rule whether the campaign is an attempt to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as the head of state and for the court to order the party to end its campaign.

Theerayut was a lawyer for Suwit Thongprasert, a leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee who was then known as Buddha Issara when ordained as a monk.

The Committee Campaigning for a People’s Constitution (CCPC) went to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday (18 July) to file a petition asking the Court to drop the petitions filed against MFP and Pita, and to investigate whether the petitions were filed in good faith. They also asked the Court to consider whether the petitions violate people’s rights and freedoms and damage democracy, and whether they are an attempt to overthrow the democratic regime.

During the activity, the police blocked the entrance to the Constitutional Court with metal fences. Officers were stationed around the building, while a water cannon truck were seen parked nearby, along with police vans and detention trucks.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (Centre)

Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a leader of the 24 June Democracy group, said that the petition filed against Pita over iTV shares had already been dismissed by the ECT, and that the public knows that Pita inherited the shares from his father and was holding them as an executor. The shares have also been transferred to his brother, while iTV is no longer in operation and therefore cannot influence the result of the election.

Somyot noted that the ECT rushed to submit the petition to the Constitutional Court, which it handed in a day before parliament voted for Prime Minister. He asked why the ECT is acting in opposition to democracy and try to prevent Pita from becoming Prime Minister, noting that the election commissioners were appointed by the Senate, which was appointed by coup leaders. 

He said that the claim that MFP is trying to overthrow the regime by proposing to amend the royal defamation law is abusing the law to destroy democracy. Both MFP’s proposed amendment to the royal defamation law and a petition filed by activists for a repeal of the law use normal legislative procedures, he said, and it is the people’s right to ask for a law to be amended. If the Constitutional Court is allowed to rule in a way that goes against democracy and the rule of law, the people will stop believing in independent organizations and the justice system, and will have to fight to protect their rights and freedoms and political interests. The group is therefore asking the court to rule whether filing such petitions is an attempt to overthrow democracy, since those who filed them can be seen as disrupting the democratic process.

Somyot said that the CCPC is planning to file charges against senators for wrongfully exercising their duties by not approving Pita’s nomination as Prime Minister, abstaining from voting, or being absent during the session. He said that these actions disrupt the democratic process and damages the security of the democratic regime.

A protest will also take place on Wednesday (19 July) at the Democracy Monument at 17.00, after parliament is scheduled to once again vote for Prime Minister. Somyot asked protesters to wear black to the event, as well as throughout July to protest a process that is undemocratic and disrespects voters and the result of the election.

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