Prayut gets royal mandate
Fierce haggling over cabinet posts done
published : 11 Jun 2019 at 04:00
newspaper section: News
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has reportedly agreed to keep the ministerial post quotas the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) had promised to the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, a military source said on Monday.
The source said that after making the decision, Gen Prayut invited all coalition parties to attend the bestowal of the royal command for him to become the next premier, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at Government House.
The source said the prime minister had also called Anutin Charnvirakul, the leader of Bhumjaithai Party, who was in Siem Reap, Cambodia on Monday, to return to Bangkok on Tuesday.
The source said the wrangling over key cabinet portfolios among the PPRP's coalition partners is over, and that the Bhumjaithai Party is likely to take control of the Transport Ministry with Saksayam Chidchob -- the younger brother of Newin Chidchob, the de facto leader of the Bhumjaithai Party -- being transport minister.
The PPRP's Sam Mitr (Three Allies) faction was reportedly unhappy with the allocation, as it wanted to reclaim the agriculture and transportation ministries from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak stressed that the formation of the government is the prime minister's duty and urged political parties to put forward their best candidates, amid previous reports of fierce wrangling over key cabinet posts among coalition partners.
Mr Somkid, who is seen as Gen Prayut's right hand man for economic affairs, said the prime minister will have the final say in the division of duties in the coalition government.
"He'll make a decision on the matter. He'll invite all concerned parties for policy talks, so he can make an informed decision on the formation of the next government that can help move the country forward," said Mr Somkid.
Concerns over Gen Prayut's role in overseeing the formation of the PPRP-led coalition government began to surface after he secured his second term as prime minister on June 5.
Mr Somkid's remarks came in the wake of reports about haggling over key ministerial posts between the PPRP and two of its key partners -- the Democrat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party -- after the prime ministerial vote.
However, both parties have insisted that the allocation of cabinet posts has already been finalised. Instead, they suggested the PPRP settle its own internal problems over the allocation of cabinet posts.
Mr Somkid stressed that it is up to the premier to approve the final composition of the cabinet, and that he foresees "no hassles".
He also said he expects to see younger politicians step into the ring, while veteran politicians should "take the back seat" and assist them in their duties.
PPRP secretary-general, Sontirat Sontijirawong -- who heads the party's working group tasked with coordinating with other coalition parties -- on Monday explained why talks over formation of the coalition government have yet to be finalised.
He said the PPRP is fully committed to putting its key economic policies into practice, and to do so, the party needs control over key economic ministries to ensure the successful implementation of said policies.
"We have to persuade our partners to work together in these key economic ministries, which will strengthen the coalition government," he said.
"In allocating cabinet posts, we also need to look at the key policies of every coalition partner -- not just the cabinet minister allocations -- to ensure the effective implementation of all policies."
PPRP leader Uttama Savanayana on Monday also played down reports about the ongoing wrangling over cabinet posts among PPRP's coalition partners, saying they are on the same team.
"Negotiations are normal. Some talks have been finalised, while others are ongoing," he said.
Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanavisit on Monday said there are no signs of changes to the previously agreed cabinet ministers' allocation for his party, before adding that the delay in forming the next government is "not caused by unfinished negotiations".
Mr Jurin said that while the new prime minister has the right to reconsider the cabinet line-up before it is submitted for royal approval, but customarily the prime minister would not make changes at this stage.
Confusion over the numbers and cabinet positions set aside for the Democrat Party arose on Sunday, when PPRP deputy spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the allocations have not been agreed by all members.
Bhumjaithai spokesman Setthapong Malisuwan said Mr Thanakorn should leave the business of allocating cabinet posts to senior party members.