Prawit says his fate tied to PM
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon hinted Wednesday he could remain in politics after the general election early next year but that his decision would likely depend on what course of action the prime minister decides to take regarding his own political career.
Gen Prawit, who also serves as the defence minister and is a highly influential member of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), implied that his fate will remain tied to that of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The premier has yet to announce whether he will re-enter the political fray when the poll rolls around. It has been tentatively scheduled for February.
He told Bloomberg in London in June that he would clarify his position regarding his political future within this month.
When Gen Prawit was quizzed Wednesday on whether he would stay on in politics if Gen Prayut did so, he answered: "He hasn't said anything about it yet, so what can I say? We have to wait until things are clearer. It all depends on the prime minister."
Gen Prawit dismissed as untrue mounting speculation about a cabinet reshuffle, amid reports that two ministers could be stepping down to join a pro-regime party.
They are Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya.
Gen Prawit said he was unaware of any imminent shake-up, adding the prime minister has given no indication to him that change is on the cards.
"The prime minister hasn't mentioned it. I only heard about the [possible] reshuffle from the media. However I doubt there will be a cabinet shake-up unless someone decides to step aside," he said.
He dismissed rumours that certain politicians may be brought into the cabinet as part of the regime's preparations to establish a future government, saying ministers are appointed on merit only.
The deputy premier also rejected as untrue reports that he would be allowed to handpick a deputy interior minister to supervise the election.
Reports claim a high-profile politician in the Northeast is being eyed for the post to help the regime prepare for the poll.
Gen Prawit also denied having any connection to, or knowledge of, the pro-regime Phalang Pracharat Party, which has been linked to Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.
Gen Chatchai refused to discuss his political future when pressed by the media, saying he would rather focus on his current responsibilities.
He redirected questions about the composition of the cabinet to the prime minister.
Regime critics claim the government is already preparing for the poll in earnest by conducting "mobile cabinet meetings" in various provinces, among other measures aimed at boosting the popularity of the NCPO, while political parties remain straitjacketed by a long-held ban on political activities.