Anuthin Charnvirakul was yesterday elected Bhumjaithai Party leader in a special assembly marked by the absence of the Matchima faction.
Newly elected Bhumjaithai Party leader Anuthin Charnvirakul, right, emerges with Bhumjaithai heavyweights Chai Chidchob, left, and Chavarat Charnvirakul, centre, after the party’s special assembly selected itsnew leader and executive board yesterday. THITI WANNAMONTHA
Mr Anuthin, who is said to have the blessing of the party's defacto leader Newin Chidchob, succeeded his father, Chavarat, who had stepped down to make way for the election of a new party leader.
More than 200 Bhumjaithai members attended the assembly, but there was no sign of the party's Matchima faction, led by Somsak Thepsuthin. The Matchima group has reportedly aligned itself with the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
Mr Anuthin said yesterday that under his leadership the party will focus on restoring peace and protecting the institution of monarchy.
"We will support all forms of reconciliation and will not become part of a conflict," he said.
He expressed confidence the Bhumjaithai as an opposition party would live up to its task of scrutinising the government.
He said it would join the Democrat Party if a no-confidence motion is lodged against the government.
However, he said the party would even lend support to the government if it was able to defend itself against the allegations.
He said Bhumjaithai has no plan to switch from the opposition and join the Pheu Thai-led coalition government.
Mr Anuthin rejected speculation the party is in decline.
He said the party will invite academics, businessmen and independent agencies to help establish its policy platforms.
"I will concentrate on consolidating the party first. But Bhumjaithai and Pheu Thai remain on good terms," he said.
Asked about the apparent internal rift involving Matchima, he said the Matchima faction supported him and had not defected from the party.
The new leader predicted Bhumjaithai will maintain its current number of House seats, 34, in the next general election.
An 11-member executive committee was also elected by the assembly.
Boonjong Wongtrairat and Prajak Klaewklaharn were elected deputy party leaders. Saksayam Chidchob, younger brother of Mr Newin, was elected as the party secretary-general and Supachai Jaisamut as his deputy.