PM 'must quit now to contest in polls'

PM 'must quit now to contest in polls'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha must resign by this Wednesday if he decides to field himself for the next general election expected to be held late next year, an expert says.

Seri Suwanpanon, chairman of the political reform committee of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), said that under the 2017 constitution, if Gen Prayut wants to be a contender in the election, he has to resign from the prime minister's post within 90 days of the charter coming into effect.

The new charter was enacted on April 6, and the 90-day deadline falls on July 5.

It seems impossible the prime minister would resign on the date, said Mr Seri, a legal expert.

As a result, the only way Gen Prayut could resume his premiership after the next general election is if he is chosen as an "outsider" prime minister by parliament after the polls.

If MPs fail to select a new prime minister from parties' nominated lists, a provisional clause under Section 272 of the constitution would trigger the alternative route. In such a situation, a joint parliamentary session would be held to pave the way to nominate a non-MP as the new premier.

Political parties have called on Gen Prayut to contest in the next elections after the prime minister told reporters last week not to worry about whether he would continue in power or set up a political party.

He said future circumstances would determine what he does.

Pheu Thai Party key member Jaturon Chaisang said Gen Prayut's remark last week reveals his intention to be prime minister again after the election.

Mr Jaturon said he did not think Gen Prayut would compete in the election but he believed the premier preferred to be chosen as an outsider prime minister with the support of the 250-member Senate which, under the charter, will be composed by the National Council for Peace and Order.

Mr Jaturon, however, said it is highly possible the election time frame would be postponed due to problems in the enactment of organic laws.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, meanwhile, insisted yesterday he would stay in the post of defence minister until this government is able to "pull the country to shore".

He said his goal is to stay in his post until the country holds a general election and has a new government, insisting his health condition is good.

Asked whether he intended to join politics in the future, Gen Prawit said he could not answer that question for the time being.

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