Eight PDRC backers rejoin Democrats

Eight PDRC backers rejoin Democrats

Ex-MPs want Abhisit to be next premier

Democrat executives and ex-MPs lay a wreath before the statue of King Prajadhipok at parliament Tuesday - the former king's memorial day.. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Democrat executives and ex-MPs lay a wreath before the statue of King Prajadhipok at parliament Tuesday - the former king's memorial day.. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Eight former Democrat Party MPs, who had switched over to the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), have now rejoined the party and voiced support for Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to be prime minister after the next election.

The eight members met for talks with Mr Abhisit on Tuesday to ask to return to the party. They expressed their readiness to run in next year's election under the party's banner and support Mr Abhisit to be the next prime minister.

However, Suthep Thaugsuban, the chairman of the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation -- a reincarnation of the PDRC -- was not among them.

The PDRC spearheaded anti-government demonstrations against the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in late 2013, culminating in the May 2014 military coup that toppled the Pheu Thai Party-led government.

Mr Suthep, a former Democrat secretary-general, had previously declared his support for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in office to push for implementation of reforms proposed by the PDRC.

After a one-hour meeting, Thaworn Senneam, a former key PDRC figure and a former Democrat MP, confirmed that the group will rejoin the party.

They are Mr Thaworn, Akanat Promphan, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Issara Somchai, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Natapol Teepsuwan and Sakontee Phattiyakul.

Mr Thaworn said that technically the eight members who joined the PDRC's campaign against the so-called Thaksin regime had never resigned from the Democrats.

"This is not a return to the party. We campaigned in the name of the PDRC alongside the Democrat Party and we won together. The ideas of the PDRC are no different from the reform proposals raised by the Democrat Party," Mr Thaworn said.

He said it was decided at the meeting that the party will press ahead with reforms on urgent issues. If the current government does not succeed, the party will carry on with the reform efforts, he said.

Mr Thaworn also said that while Mr Suthep has chosen to fight the "Thaksin regime" by backing Gen Prayut to stay on in office, the Democrats support the election and want Mr Abhisit to be the next premier.

He also said he did not believe the Democrats' approach clashes with the PDRC's.

However, a party source said some former members were displeased with the group rejoining. They thought it had left the party just to score political gains and only came back because the election was approaching, the source said.

Mr Abhisit said the eight former Democrat MPs have confirmed their commitment to working with the party, and they returned when details of the election-related draft bills were clear.

He added that when the eight have rejoined the party, they are required to abide by party rules.

Speaking via Facebook Live on Tuesday, Mr Suthep said it was no surprise to him that the eight former PDRC members had gone back to the Democrats. Mr Suthep, who is believed to remain influential in the party, also gave assurances he will not interfere in the Democrats' affairs.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd denied that the military will form a political party to run in the next election.

He made the remarks after ex-Democrat leader Bhichai Rattakul on Sunday floated the idea of four major parties -- Pheu Thai, Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chartthaipattana -- forming an alliance to fight a possible military-led party in the next poll.

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