Political ban decision due in December
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is likely to hold a meeting in December to determine when the ban on political activities will be fully lifted, according to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.
Gen Prawit, who also serves as the Defence Minister, said no exact date or time has been set for the meeting, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Representatives from all political parties will be invited, he noted.
Responding to Gen Prayut's remarks early this week that he was "interested in political positions", Gen Prawit said: "I support the prime minister in entering the political fray.
"Whichever party he joins is his decision. I'm not concerned about him. I have confidence in him."
Asked whether the prime minister would be able to put up with political headwinds if he were to engage in politics after the poll, Gen Prawit said the administration has weathered substantial challenges over the last four years so this should not be an issue.
"I think the prime minister is strong enough as he's been through a lot, and he is expected to handle the issue well," said Gen Prawit.
When asked if the premier would eventually join the Phalang Pracharat Party, known to be affiliated to the regime, Gen Prawit provided no clues.
Public feedback on Gen Prayut's official entry into politics is likely to be positive based on opinion polls concerning the government's four-year performance, he said.
If the public is satisfied with the job he is doing, Gen Prayut would be willing to pursue it, Gen Prawit added.
"There's nothing unusual about him potentially wanting to continue [in the post] for another four years," he said.
Asked whether he was concerned that the government's achievements would be left in tatters when the new administration takes over, he said no one could predict what the next government would do and ultimately this rests on the wishes of the public.
"People are the most important factor," said Gen Prawit.
He said he would likely be interested in following the premier in governing the nation under a democratic framework if Gen Prayut were to ask him to stay.
However, Gen Prawit made it clear he was unwilling to become a member of any political party.
Responding to reports that some cabinet members may step down to join one of the political parties, he said they would most likely deal with administrative work to help the party of their choice take shape.
They are treading carefully and they know what they need to do, he added.
Reports have emerged that Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, and PM's Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool are to step down and make an appearance at the Phalang Pracharat Party's first gathering on Saturday.