Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the country's most popular party Move Forward, has been suspended from parliament after Thailand's constitutional court accepted a lawsuit alleging he was ineligible to run in May's election.
The lawsuit claimed that Pita was ineligible to run on the grounds that he owned media shares, but Pita appealed the decision. The announcement took place during the appeal.
The ruling will not prevent Pita from running for prime minister, as candidates do not have to be MPs. Still, it will exacerbate many of the problems of his party, which faces an uphill battle to take power despite its success in the May elections.
Addressing parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Pita confirmed he had a document from the court regarding his suspension and said he would follow the order.
"I would like to use this opportunity to say goodbye until we meet again. I would like to ask the fellow members to serve the people. I think Thailand has changed and will never be the same as it was before May 14," he said, referring to the date of the election.
"The people have won half of this journey and there is another half to go," he said.
Move Forward's promises include ending conscription, removing the military from politics and bold reforms against the powerful monarchy. Based on their campaign, Pita and his party won the most seats and the most votes in the last elections.
To become prime minister, Pita needs the majority support of parliament, including the lower house of elected lawmakers and the military-appointed senate.
Last week he failed to win a majority in the 749-member parliament. Only 324 supported him, including just 13 out of 249 senators.
His opponents believe Pita should not be allowed to run again after his attempts last week failed on Wednesday.
In a statement released by Move Forward after the Constitutional Court's announcement, Move Forward said that according to the law, Pita still has the right to run for prime minister.
Source: The Guardian