Somsak talks up Prayut for return as PM
A core leader of the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) political group has thrown his support behind Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha making a comeback as prime minister, saying the premier has been an agent of positive change for the country.
Speaking as a Sam Mitr co-leader for the first time since the group's formation, Somsak Thepsuthin said Gen Prayut has turned the country around by ending the colour-coded political conflict.
He said the previous election hit an impasse and could not produce a government.
Mr Somsak was referring to the election on Feb 2, 2014 organised after then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the House at the height of the political tensions faced by the Pheu Thai Party-led government.
The Feb 2 poll was also disrupted by protesters. On March 21 that year, the Constitutional Court invalidated the election after finding it had failed to be held within one day throughout the country as required.
"No one was happy with a nation divided by the politics of colour-coded shirts," he said, referring the pro-and anti-government demonstrators who descended on the streets wearing shirts of their symbolic colours, primarily red and yellow.
"However, Gen Prayut made all that go away although [his rise to power] was out of the ordinary," Mr Somsak said. Gen Prayut led the coup that toppled the Pheu Thai-led administration in May 2014.
Mr Somsak served as public health minister under the Suchinda Kraprayoon government that was driven from power in the bloody Black May popular uprising from May 17-20, 1992.
"If we look at it carefully, we'll see he [Gen Prayut] has restored happiness to us. Supporting him makes for an interesting choice of action to take," he added.
The Sam Mitr key figure denied the group was looking to establish its own party to contest the next election tentatively set for early next year. He said time would tell if the group would merge with Phalang Pracharat, the party being registered with the Election Commission and which is reportedly designed to be a vehicle for securing Gen Prayut's return as prime minister after the next poll.
"Now is not the time to say anything definitive. If I speak about anything, it might cause a commotion," Mr Somsak said, adding he had no idea what goals Phalang Pracharat has set for itself to achieve, such as the number of MPs it targets in the next poll.
Sam Mitr has been linked to the alleged poaching of former MPs reportedly waiting in the wings to defect to Phalang Pracharat. The defectors, many of whom are believed to want to break away from the Pheu Thai Party, would help augment the new party's chance of winning enough seats in the poll to be the core party to form a coalition government and nominate a prime minister candidate.
Also Thursday, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said he met Supol Fongngam, a former Pheu Thai MP, at this week's mobile cabinet meeting in Ubon Ratchathani.
He said he had impressed on Mr Supol the government's wish for its policies to be continued in the future.
Mr Sontirat has brushed aside speculation he is being groomed for the role of Phalang Pracharat secretary-general.