PM poll run up to him, says Prawit
Prayut 'must apply' if he hopes to stand
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will have to contest the general election if he wants to remain in politics, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon says.
Gen Prawit, also defence minister, made the remark Monday as he answered reporters' questions on whether Gen Prayut may stay on in power.
It is the first time Gen Prawit has commented on Gen Prayut's political prospects.
"If he wants to remain in politics, he must apply to stand in the election," Gen Prawit said.
Technically, Gen Prayut lost the chance to contest the next election when he failed to resign from the prime minister's post within 90 days of the charter coming into effect, falling on July 5, as required by the constitution.
Political parties have called on Gen Prayut to contest the next elections to ensure he would not become an "outsider" prime minister after the election expected late next year.
Asked about survey results which suggested people were not sure if the general election would take place in the latter half of next year as planned under the government's roadmap, Gen Prawit said he had heard the people do not want the election to take place.
However, Gen Prawit said the government wanted the election to take place in 2018 according to its roadmap. Risk factors that would delay the poll have not been found so far.
His statement Monday contrasted with the one he made last Jan 3, when he not only predicted an election in 2017 but said Gen Prayut had no choice.
"A general election will be held this year," he told reporters in January. "We can't move it. It has its time frame."
Gen Prawit also responded to politicians who demanded the regime give a clear answer as to whether the next election will take place next year.
Gen Prawit directed his remarks at key Pheu Thai Party member Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan who was among politicians taking part in a seminar on the political roadmap and the election, held at the Thai Journalists Association on Saturday.
Gen Prawit said details of the election will become clear only after the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has completed organic bills essential to hold the election -- particularly the bill on the election of MPs -- and the bills are passed by the National Legislative Assembly.
"If Khunying Suradat is so confident, why doesn't she hold the election herself," Gen Prawit said.
At the seminar, Khunying Sudarat said the government has on many occasions postponed the expected date for the election.
Whether the poll can happen according to the roadmap would depend on the passing of the organic laws.
However, she asked the government and the NCPO to announce whether they would stay on for a long time.
She said the difficulties might not be the concerns of political parties, but the people must be asked which one is more problematic: holding an election, or not.
Also Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam discussed the CDC's tenure, saying the CDC will stay on until all the organic bills have been enacted.
Even if any members resign, the National Council for Peace and Order can appoint others to fill the posts, Mr Wissanu said.
He added the CDC has to meet the 240-day deadline to finish all organic bills, starting from the constitution's promulgation on April 6, and the NLA will then have two months to deliberate and endorse the bills.
Once endorsed by the NLA, the bills will then be sent back to the CDC, the Constitutional Court and other independent agencies for a review -- a process which takes 30 days.
The bills will then be submitted to the palace for royal approval. His Majesty the King will have 90 days to consider whether to endorse them.
A general election will be held within 150 days after the key organic laws, particularly the one on the election of MPs are royally endorsed, Mr Wissanu said.
Asked if the general election can be held in November 2018 if the draft of the organic laws are completed within the 240-day timeframe, Mr Wissanu said what happens will depend to the roadmap.
However, Mr Wissanu said he never mentioned that the general election must take place in November of 2018.
In the event the NLA rejects a certain organic bill, Mr Wissanu said the NLA must take responsibility by amending any problematic provisions.
He insisted this would not cause an impasse, though it may affect the political time frame.
However, Mr Wissanu said he did not think the roadmap would be changed.
"Today, we have to stick to the roadmap. We cannot speak otherwise," Mr Wissanu said.