Prayut to run for new party as PM

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is to run as the PM candidate for a new party in the next election. Prayut will be after another term under the banner of the Ruam Thai Sang Chart (RTSC) party, a move that could divide the pro-military and conservative bases in the next election.

Prayut insisted that he has a close bond with the ruling Palang Pracharath Party’s candidate for prime minister, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, explaining that the relationship among soldiers is “unbreakable.” Prayut’s move was expected given the yawning policy gulf between coup leader Prayut and party leader Prawit.

“Prawit was my first commander, and he took good care of me,” Prayut said, a situation that has clearly changed as Prawit now wants Prayut out of his way, though the deputy PM has no chance of taking power himself. The two military men were once close allies, but political differences have driven a wedge between them. However, Prayut insists that their ties remain strong. When asked if he would work with Prawit again, Prayut said the election would decide which parties become coalition or opposition members.

After dodging questions for weeks, the Premier confirmed his exit from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which backed him for the premiership in the 2019 election. Prayut said he will join Ruam Thai Sang Chart once its registration date is scheduled, claiming that he had decided to join the party – formed in March last year – some time previously. RTSC was set up exclusively to support his re-election. Its leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga is secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Office.

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Voters will decide whether or not he continues to serve as prime minister, he said, adding that the party had offered to back his return as premier in the election, expected in May. To have any chance of re-election, the RTSC must win at least 25 seats to nominate a PM candidate. Parliament then chooses the premier.

“The important thing is to continue the government’s work in a sustainable way.”

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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