Palang Pracharath 'closer' to coalition
Deals struck with Dems, Bhumjathai
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is edging closer to reclaiming the premiership as the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has struck initial deals with the Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties, which will likely be offered key cabinet posts.
Gen Prayut is the prime ministerial candidate of the PPRP, which has offered the role of public health minister to Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul and the post of parliament president to a senior executive of the Democrats, Banyat Bantadtan, according to the sources.
A source at Bhumjaithai told the Bangkok Post that key Bhumjaithai figures have agreed that the party will join the PPRP in forming a coalition government and Mr Anutin will become public health minister so he can push the party's much-touted policy on liberalising the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
However, an official decision on the matter will be sought from the party's executives and MPs due to meet on Monday, the source said.
Sources in the PPRP and the Democrat parties also told the Bangkok Post that potential parties tipped to join the PPRP-led coalition government have concluded that the first step will be to find a parliament president who is acceptable to all sides. This is a precondition for talks on whether they will join the coalition government and which party controls each ministry, the sources said.
It was agreed that Mr Banyat, former Democrat leader, is most suited to the role of parliament president and that he is a better choice than two other candidates for the post -- PPRP MP for Chachoengsao, Suchart Tancharoen, and Wirat Rattanaset, a PPRP MP for Nakhon Ratchasima.
The House Speaker is the ex-officio president of the parliament.
Speaking during a Facebook live session, former Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva denied reports of a third alliance of parties including the Democrats and Bhumjaithai to thwart the PPRP's bid to form a government.
Gen Prayut on Friday expressed confidence that he will return as prime minister and said key ministries such as defence, interior, finance and transport will likely be controlled by the main parties in the next government.
Over lunch with Government House reporters, Gen Prayut denied that his desire to ensure his allies controlled those ministries was due to any vested interests.
He reacted positively when asked if Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon would remain in the next cabinet if the PPRP forms a government.
"I wish he would because we trust one another. But it depends on how much responsibility he can take and on his health," Gen Prayut said.
Parliament is expected to convene next Wednesday to choose speakers for the House and Senate, with the formal opening session presided over by His Majesty the King two days later.
Meanwhile, the PPRP has said it is preparing to file a lawsuit against the Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Juangroongruangkit.
On Wednesday, Mr Thanathorn spoke at a forum held by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand about the future of his party.
"A few weeks after the election, my mother was contacted by a senior PPRP member. By then, there were already many lawsuits against me and other party members.
"The PPRP man told my mother, Khun Somporn, that we can clear all these lawsuits if you ask your son to transfer 20 MPs from the FFP to the PPRP."
PPRP deputy spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana wrote in a post on the PPRP Facebook page that the accusation made by Mr Thanathorn was an outrageous lie.
"We did no such thing and have never assigned anyone to do that. Mr Thanathorn was lying through his teeth when he slandered us. This is the dirtiest political trick ever. No one in our party has ever done so," he said in the post.
"My mum, who's nervous and fearful for her son's safety, called me and said, 'Thanathorn, we've got an offer. You've won so many so why don't you just give them 20.
"This is the kind of society we live in," he said.