Thailand's state Election Commission said Wednesday it concluded there is evidence that the top candidate to become the country's next prime minister, Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, violated election law and referred his case to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.
The commission's decision, announced in a press release, means the court could order Pita to be suspended from his duties as a Member of Parliament until the ruling is issued.
In theory it does not rule out him being nominated to become prime minister by Parliament on Thursday, because the post does not have to be held by a lawmaker. But it makes his confirmation by a vote in Parliament, which was already uncertain, even less likely.
The Move Forward Party swept to a surprise first-place finish in May's general election, capturing 151 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives and the most popular votes.
Move Forward has assembled an eight-party, 312-seat coalition it had planned to take power. But the unlikely approval from members in the conservative 250-seat unelected Senate, which participates in the vote for prime minister, makes Pita's path to power a difficult one.
The case against Pita hinges on his alleged ownership of shares in a media company, which would bar him from running for office.
The complaint against him, lodged by a member of a rival political party, applied to the period of the 2019 general election. Pita had challenged the basis for the claim, which extended to his failure to include the shares on a mandatory assets declaration.