Thailand's constitutional court suspends reformist Pita Limjaroenrat in another blow to his hopes of becoming the nation's next leader after a stunning election win.
Pita's Move Forward Party (MFP) won the most seats in May polls thanks to young and urban Thais frustrated by almost ten years of military-backed rule, but Pita's efforts to form a government have stumbled since the May polls.
His first attempt to become the country's next prime minister fell dozens of votes short in a parliamentary sitting last week.
Thailand's conservative establishment vehemently opposes the party's economic reform platform and its pledge to soften the kingdom's strict royal defamation laws.
On Wednesday morning, the court said it would proceed with a case that could see Pita disqualified from parliament altogether for owning shares in a media company, forcing his suspension.
Lawmakers are forbidden from owning shares in media companies under Thailand's constitution, though the television station in question has not broadcast since 2007.
Pita, who is Harvard-educated and comes from a wealthy family, said the shares were inherited from his father. He has 15 days to respond to the case.
Dozens of supporters cried and shouted abuse at a large riot police cordon guarding the gates of parliament after news of Pita's suspension broke.
Protesters announced plans for a public rally near the Democracy Monument in downtown Bangkok for Wednesday evening and police said they were preparing for any unrest.
Earlier Pita said that he was unlikely to have secured enough support to succeed in a second ballot for the premiership to be held Wednesday.
"It has become obvious that the people's vote is not enough to rule the country," he said in a post on his official Instagram account.
His candidacy "has to be approved by the senators, and it probably won't be enough for the second PM nomination", he added.
He remained in the chamber for several hours after the court order was issued and was not directed to leave.
Pita remains eligible to stand as a candidate for prime minister but will be unable to participate in any vote.