Suthep: Prayut best man to lead nation
Analysts make light of Yingluck escape
Veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban has rated Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as the most deserving candidate to lead the country after the general elections.
Suthep's comments have come in the wake of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's escape from Thailand to elude last Friday's court verdict in a rice-pledging scandal, casting doubts over the future of her Pheu Thai Party.
Some political analysts believe that Ms Yingluck's decision to flee the country would not deal a heavy blow to the Pheu Thai Party, and could instead turn public attention towards the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which is being blamed for creating the circumstances leading her to escape.
While it is still unclear if Mr Suthep's now-defunct People Democratic Reform Committee will set up a new political party, he said Tuesday he still supports Gen Prayut because the prime minister is "loyal to the monarchy, has integrity and the courage to make decisions" to solve problems facing the country.
Mr Suthep chairs the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation, a reincarnation of the PDRC which held months-long mass street rallies against the Yingluck administration before her government was toppled in a coup led by Gen Prayut, then army chief.
Though the former Democrat secretary-general said he has no plans to set up a political party, he admitted that he hasn't rejected the idea altogether.
Mr Suthep insists that he, together with other political activists who share the same goals, is ready do everything that will benefit the country.
While Mr Suthep reiterated that he "will not run in an election any more", he said he will keep lending support to people or political parties who are genuinely sincere in working for the country.
Meanwhile, some political observers believe the Pheu Thai Party will remain a major political force in Thailand -- and favourite to win the election -- despite Ms Yingluck's escape.
Political analysist Sukhum Nuansakul said he believes Ms Yingluck's fleeing will hardly affect support for the party if the "influential businessman" giving financial support to the party continues to be the same person.
"The party and Thaksin Shinawatra's names can still be sold," Mr Sukhum said. "The party will not come to an end as long as the support from the businessman continues."
It is widely said that Ms Yingluck's brother, former prime minister Thaksin, is the de facto leader of Pheu Thai Party.
The impact of these recent developments on Gen Prayut's NPCO will become clearer after questions are raised about its alleged role in letting Ms Yingluck flee the country, said Mr Sukhum, adding there will be "more political pressure" on the regime.
Dusit Poll chief Natthaphon Yaemchim also echoed Mr Sukhum's views, saying the Pheu Thai Party will continue to be popular among the masses.
It is true that some party supporters may have been disappointed by Ms Yingluck's escape, but this will hardly make them turn to other parties, Mr Natthaphon said.
"I don't think they will switch sides and opt for the Democrat Party. The Phue Thai lovers don't like the Democrats."