Thai opposition politician remains lawmaker after ruling

The Constitutional Court of Thailand has ruled in favor of a popular opposition politician, rejecting a complaint that would have disqualified him as a lawmaker.

The court handed down the decision on Wednesday to the former prime ministerial candidate of the progressive Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat. It said that he hadn't violated the law over his alleged holding of shares in a media company.

The 43-year-old Harvard graduate was accused of violating the constitution, which bans owning shares in mass media companies while running for the general election. It was held last May.

The court said that the company in question had not run a media business since it ceased operations in 2007.

In response to the ruling, Pita said, "I'm now focused on the next step, on the kind of work that needs to be done, including the party's strategic roadmap."

Pita's Move Forward Party came in first in the general election. They gained young supporters by pledging to amend the royal defamation law, which makes it illegal to insult the country's royal family. They've also sought to eliminate the military's influence from Thai politics.

Pita stepped down as party leader after he was suspended from his duties as a member of parliament over the allegations. Wednesday's ruling reinstates him as a lawmaker.

An opinion poll last month showed that 39 percent of respondents support him for prime minister, putting him well ahead of incumbent Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who came in second at 22 percent.