By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE PALANG PRACHARATH Party will no longer name Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as lame duck candidate for head of government in the next election because he could otherwise possibly retain his power for less than two years from now, said sources in the ruling party today (Sept. 21).
Palang Pracharath Party leader Prawit Wongsuwan is very unlikely to pick Prayut as lame duck candidate for post-election head of government as it did following the 2019 election, given the stipulation in the 2017 constitution that a person may legally assume premiership for a maximum of eight years, either consecutively or not, according to the sources inside the party.
Prayut named himself prime minister in 2014 after the then-army chief had staged a bloodless coup to oust an elected government under then-premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
Nevertheless, Prayut is not expected to dissolve the House of Representatives and call a general election anytime soon as his Palang Pracharath-led coalition government could possibly stay on until the middle of 2023, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Prawit, who concurrently acts as deputy premier in charge of national security affairs, has strengthened his reins over the ruling party after his right-hand man, Palang Pracharath Party secretary general Thammanat Prompow, was ousted by Prayut as deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister following a censure debate and no-confidence vote at parliament earlier this month.
Thammanat had allegedly planned to have some government MPs including those of one-MP parties abstain from casting votes in support of Prayut who had got wind of the alleged shenanigan and finally managed to survive the no-confidence vote following the four-day censure debate.
Such power play at parliament allegedly prompted hearsay of five million baht in cash payoff being offered to each of certain government MPs in exchange for their vote in support of the premier.
Prawit will certainly pick somebody else in lieu of Prayut as Palang Pracharath candidate for head of a post-election government though he has not made up his mind as yet, the sources said.
Relationship between Prawit and Prayut, both having been earlier viewed to have maintained mutual fraternal ties, has reportedly turned sour whereas misgivings have apparently prevailed among the party’s rank and file who will have to choose between the two of them for help with their next race to parliament, they said.
Thammanat, known to currently have a dozen Palang Pracharath MPs, mostly representing northern constituencies, at his command plus dozens of other lawmakers of the party viewed as closely associated with him, has remained invariably staunch and responsive to the party leader.
Thammanat has been considerably frustrated over Prayut having personally instructed certain cabinet members attached to the Palang Pracharath Party to take care of some of its MPs and look to meet their demands despite the fact that the premier has never registered himself as a member of the party.
These Palang Pracharath cabinet members included Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, Deputy Finance Minister Santi Prompat and Digital Economy & Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn.
The Palang Pracharath Party has been evidently divided into several factions with these largely tussling with one another over constituency-based pork barrel politics.
Top: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Home Page: Deputy Prime Minister and Palang Pracharath Party leader Prawit Wongsuwan. Both photos: NNT