Suthep returns to politics to defend charter

Suthep returns to politics to defend charter

Suthep Thaugsuban talks to supporters of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party during a meeting to launch the party at Rangsit University on Sunday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Suthep Thaugsuban talks to supporters of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party during a meeting to launch the party at Rangsit University on Sunday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Suthep Thaugsuban officially returned to politics on Sunday under the banner of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party (ACT) and declared his determination to protect the 2017 constitution.

The party officially launched on Sunday at Rangsit University with the spotlight on the man who led the street rallies for the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to oust then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai Party from power.

ACT members did not elect executive members and a leader during the meeting but set up five working groups, with the focus on Mr Suthep, who was assigned to lead the campaign to lure supporters to the party, co-founded by his younger brother, Thani.

"ACT is a new political phenomenon because it is a party for the people and it will listen only to the people," the former Surat Thani MP for the Democrat Party boasted.

Mr Suthep, a veteran from Surat Thani, said he will put on the "old shoes" he wore while engineering the PDRC demonstrations on Bangkok streets in order to canvass support for the new party.

The rallies culminated in the coup by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was the army chief at the time, to end escalating political violence. He subsequently formed and chaired the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Mr Suthep said the new party will protect the 2017 constitution - arguing support for the charter was reflected when it cruised through the referendum - and oppose attempts to pardon political prisoners.

"There will be no pardon for any political prisoners," he vowed, stressing his intention to not run in the next election to Parliament.

The position of ACT pits the party against the Future Forward Party, whose leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said on May 27 that the party would "tear up" the charter and seek pardon for political prisoners charged by the NCPO.

The Chartthaipattana and Pheu Thai parties later came out to support Mr Thanathorn's initiative.

Some Pheu Thai and red-shirt members on Sunday came out to attack Mr Suthep for making a U-turn by coming back to politics, after he had announced his retirement from it during the street rallies.


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