Prawit quashes talk of Interior post move

Prawit quashes talk of Interior post move

Denies ministry plot by 21 ex-party MPs

Aides help Deputy PM and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon as he arrives at the party's HQ on Ratchadaphisek Road yesterday. Varuth Hirunyatheb
Aides help Deputy PM and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon as he arrives at the party's HQ on Ratchadaphisek Road yesterday. Varuth Hirunyatheb

Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), has denied former party MPs were lobbying for him to take over as interior minister.

He dismissed as baseless a report that 21 MPs, recently expelled from the PPRP and who have now joined the Setthakij Thai Party, want him to become interior minister in return for their continued support for the government.

The current interior minister is Gen Anupong Paojinda whom the former PPRP MPs had reportedly accused earlier of not respecting the party.

Emerging from a meeting, PPRP spokeswoman Patcharin Samsiripong said the party remained united and was working to become a stronger force in Thai politics.

The PPRP was confident it will win at least 150 seats in the next general election despite growing concerns about the party becoming fractious and weak.

She said the party was throwing its full support behind Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat, the new PPRP secretary-general, said many people were seeking party membership.

The ruling PPRP is licking its wounds after suffering defeat in three successive by-elections, the latest of which was in Constituency 9 of Bangkok. On the back of this, it was speculated the party would suffer in the next elections.

The 21 expelled MPs, led by its former secretary-general Thamanat Prompow, still have close ties with Gen Prawit.

Political analysts believe a move by the group to have him take over at the Interior Ministry could work to their advantage in the next general election since the ministry supervises local administrations.

Although they have not declared whether they will carry on supporting the PPRP-led government, Gen Prawit taking over at the Interior Ministry would most likely see them maintain their support for the coalition.

Capt Thamanat last week declined to say outright if the MPs will switch sides or not. Where his faction's loyalties lie will be decided by how they can work for the public interest, he said in a Facebook post.

A Setthakij Thai source said Gen Prawit was an ideal choice for interior minister, given his credentials and ability to respond well to the political needs of constituency MPs.

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