Pheu Thai denies ties to 'back-up party'
The Pheu Thai Party on Wednesday held a general assembly to resume party activities while denying any connections with a new party known as "Pheu Tham" which is widely believed to be its "back-up party".
Speaking after the meeting, Pheu Thai acting secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said the meeting had endorsed a new set of party regulations and a manifesto in compliance with the constitution's organic law on political parties.
Mr Phumtham said the meeting also agreed that current executives will continue their caretaker roles until Oct 28 when a new board of executives will be elected. An 11-member central committee will also be set up on the same day to conduct primary voting.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) eased some restrictions to permit some political activities last month. The NCPO is expected to lift the political activities ban altogether in December to allow parties to prepare for the general election.
Mr Phumtham brushed aside talk that the party has received "someone's instructions" to choose its new leader and a prime ministerial candidate. He insisted that the party follows rules and regulations and its members always have a say on party affairs.
Asked to comment on perceived connections between Pheu Thai and Pheu Tham, Mr Phumtham said the two are independent of each other.
Pheu Thai was seen as likely to switch its members and potential candidates to a new party known as "Pheu Tham" (For Dhamma), a political outfit already registered with the Election Commission (EC), which is widely believed to be Pheu Thai's "back-up party" in the event of a "political accident".
Pheu Thai's fate is said to be hanging in the balance as it is under investigation by the EC for alleged violation of the constitution's organic law on political parties. The EC probe was triggered by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra making a video call to party members.
The law prohibits a party from agreeing to be influenced by an outsider, an offence that may lead to its dissolution. The probe is widely thought by Pheu Thai members to be a move to kick the party out of the upcoming general election tentatively scheduled to take place in February of next year, a source said.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has decided to stop carrying out his top party role temporarily and has appointed his deputy Jurin Laksanavisit as acting party leader as Mr Abhisit has entered the race to become leader of the country's oldest party again.
Democrat deputy spokesman Rames Rattanachaweng said on Wednesday Mr Abhisit sees himself as a stakeholder as he is one of the contenders for the top post, so he has decided to step down temporarily to ensure fairness. Three people have declared their candidacy for the position. They are Mr Abhisit, former deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot and former Democrat Phitsanulok MP Warong Dechgitvigrom. Last Saturday, a party meeting agreed it would adopt a primary voting system to choose its next leader.