NLA splits over Rewat renomination

NLA splits over Rewat renomination

Resistance is growing in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to former Medical Services Department chief Rewat Visarutvej being renominated as Ombudsman, which has split the assembly, said a source in the NLA.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued an order under Section 44 on Wednesday halting the selection of any member of an independent organisation until a permanent charter is in place.

The order, believed to focus on the ongoing renomination of Dr Rewat as the new Ombudsman was issued to prevent a "serious untoward incident", said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

He is understood to be referring to the split in the NLA with several lawmakers backing Dr Rewat and another group of members disagreeing with his return as candidate for Ombudsman.

Dr Rewat's backers in the assembly include former military top brass while his opponents are mostly civil servants and academics.

The opponents argued Dr Rewat has close ties to politicians tied to the red shirts. However, his renomination has received the blessing of some figures in the National Council for Peace and Order, said the source.

In the previous round of nominations early last month, several NLA members questioned Dr Rewat's links to red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar. Dr Rewat served as an adviser to Mr Nattawut when he was deputy commerce minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

Mr Wissanu said yesterday the order is being applied only to the selection of Ombudsman for the time being, and was aimed at preventing serious repercussions.

Asked why the Ombudsman's selection process could have such a serious impact, Mr Wissanu said, "If you were in parliament, you would know. It was a serious issue that should not have happened."

NLA member Kittisak Rattanawaraha said Dr Rewat's renomination has now been suspended.

He admitted many fellow legislators were against the process, in light of the previous nomination round in the NLA in which 66 members voted for Dr Rewat, 66 against and 24 abstained.

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