Just days after defeating a vote of no-confidence that spawned suspicions of a rift in the party, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ousted controversial Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thamanat Prompow as well as Deputy Minister of Labour Narumon Pinyosinwat, who was a spokeswoman for Prayut before her 1 year tenure at the Labour Ministry.
The command was issued yesterday and published today in the Royal Gazette, officially removing them from the cabinet. PM Prayut said that the removals were for the benefit of the government, suggesting that some ministers be removed. When pressed for details, the prime minister merely said that he had his own reasons for the shake-up.
Many had speculated on strains between Thamanat, who had become a star in the party while dodging heat for his prior drug-running conviction in Australia years earlier, and the Prime Minister. Some wondered why he was not named when 5 other cabinet members faced the no-contest vote and rumours circled of a plan to wiggle into power if PM Prayut lost the no-confidence vote, while Thamanat has always denied any ambition for prime ministership.
Thamanat signed a resignation letter saying he didn’t agree with the national administration’s direction and that he can’t share the same path as PM Prayut. He had only 3 months earlier been elected to be the secretary-general of the Palang Pracharath Party, but now he says he might leave and start a new party.
Insiders report that Thamanat was not satisfied with a deputy position and wanted a full ministry title. For now, he will hold his MP position for Phayao province and take time to decide. Still, political analysts view him as the coalition government’s most powerful political broker.
Meanwhile, the ousting by PM Prayut came as a shock to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, the leader of the PPRP, who was not informed in advance of the purge and found out only after the royal command was published. Political insiders say that PM Prayut would not tolerate the risk of a power move against him and wanted to maintain a tight hold over the PPRP.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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