Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has formally accepted the United Thai Nation Party’s nomination to become its first prime ministerial candidate, vowing that the UTN will lead the next government.
He accepted the nomination during a party seminar held on Saturday to familiarise potential MP candidates with the rules for the May 14 general election.
Gen Prayut was named as the party’s first PM candidate, while party leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga will be its second.
A party with least 25 MPs can nominate up to three PM candidates.
Gen Prayut, who chairs the party’s strategic committee, took to the podium to formally accept the nomination, declaring his readiness to return as premier and lead the next government for two more years.
Gen Prayut, 69, has only two years left to serve as PM due to term limits as defined by the Constitutional Court. He does not have to be an MP to become premier, but he has yet to clarify whether he will seek a seat as a party-list MP.
He told the meeting that the UTN is working towards establishing itself as a lasting political institution.
He insisted that after the election the party will not be a “side road” but the “main road”, or the core party, in forming a government.
“Everyone has a role in this,” he said. “We’re a party that is not guided by a pursuit of self-interest.”
He added that the UTN, despite being a newly established party, aims to win as many MPs as possible.
“We’re not new faces here,” he said. “I’ve been [prime minister] for many years.
“Our members are also former cabinet members and deputy prime ministers with countless achievements under our belts.”
Meanwhile, Mr Pirapan said elections are not just about choosing MPs but a national leader who will chart the course for the entire country.
He said that just as the government has carried out its pledges, the UTN will also walk the talk.
Also at Saturday’s event, an MP who defected from the opposition Pheu Thai Party to the UTN prostrated himself apologetically before Gen Prayut.
Saranwut Saranket was seeking the premier’s forgiveness for being critical of him during debates in parliament.
Gen Prayut said he did not condemn the MP, saying he understood the nature of politics.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gives a speech as he formally accepts the United Thai Nation Party’s nomination as its first prime ministerial candidate on Saturday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)