PM warns against campaigning with his name
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday warned political parties not to use him in their election campaigns, saying he had not decided to join any party.
He said several parties have already expressed interest in naming him as a potential prime ministerial candidate, but that they should do so with caution because he has not yet made a decision.
"As long as I haven't accepted it [a prime ministerial candidacy offer], they shouldn't do it," he said, when asked if the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) had asked for his permission to use him in the campaign.
In its campaign in Phitsanulok last weekend, those there were seen carrying placards supporting Gen Prayut's return as the premier after the poll, tentatively scheduled for Feb 24.
PPRP key figure Somsak Thepsuthin, who is in charge of the party's campaign committee, expressed his support for Gen Prayut when addressing the crowd of 7,000.
The PPRP is known to have close affiliations with the regime and is widely seen by the regime's critics as a vehicle to help Gen Prayut return to power if he wishes to do so.
Gen Prayut said he had yet to consider his political future while calling on political parties to comply with the constitution and election-related laws.
Asked if he would make any adjustments after a royal decree announcing a general election is published to ensure a fair campaign, he said it will operate under the law.
He had also told cabinet ministers who joined the PPRP to toe the line.
Gen Prayut appears on national television every Friday to address the country and keep them informed of government projects.
Some are concerned that the programme will give a certain political party an edge over its rivals.
Meanwhile, former Chartthaipattana Party member Somsak Prissanananthakul confirmed a feud within the party had prompted senior member Jongchai Thiengtham to defect to the Bhumjaithai Party.
Mr Jongchai announced his decision to leave Chartthaipattana on Sunday and his defection raised suspicions of a serious dispute over potential candidates in Suphan Buri, the stronghold of Chartthaipattana.
Chartthaipattana secretary-general Prapat Pothasuthon backed a decision by his nephew, Yutthana Pothasuthon, to stand under Palang Pracharath Party's ticket in Constituency 4 in Suphan Buri.
Mr Yutthana would be fighting for the same constituency as Mr Jongchai's son, Samerkan, despite an earlier promise from Mr Prapat that Mr Yutthana would not contest the seat.
Mr Somsak said Mr Jongchai was upset and planned to stand in the election under the Bhumjaithai Party's banner in Constituency 3 against Mr Prapat.
According to Mr Somsak, with Mr Jongchai vying for a House seat, the Pothasuthon family's chance of grabbing seats in Suphan Buri would be significantly reduced.
Meanwhile, the Democrat Party on Tuesday insisted it would nominate its leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, as the only candidate for prime minister as the party's candidate screening panel met to finalise 350 constituency candidates.