PM 'not meeting' with small parties

PM 'not meeting' with small parties

Coalition calls for Mongkolkit to remain in bloc

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to reporters after a cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to reporters after a cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has denied reports that he was planning to meet with small parties in the coalition government to patch up differences arising from the allocation of political posts.

His comment came as the majority of small parties were trying to convince Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, leader of the Thai Civilized Party, not to pull out of the coalition bloc.

On Tuesday, Gen Prayut insisted he had no plans to meet with the small parties over a meal on Wednesday, as widely reported in the media.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thammanat Prompow said the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has assigned him, not Gen Prayut, the task of liaising with the small parties.

The PPRP was spurred into action by Mr Mongkolkit's recent decision to withdraw from the government bloc. 

He said he was dissatisfied with the government's proposition to increase oil taxes and boost populist handout programmes, along with the ongoing legal question over Gen Prayut's incomplete oath during last month's cabinet swearing-in ceremony. 

In a Facebook post made on Tuesday, Mr Mongkolkit reiterated that his party would break away from the PPRP-led coalition government. He said that for Gen Prayut to continue running the country, he must "right the wrong", adding that the Thai Civilized Party will operate as an independent opposition party.  

Capt Thammanat, meanwhile, downplayed concerns that the Thai Civilized Party's withdrawal would send the coalition bloc, which is vulnerable due to its thin majority in parliament, into a tailspin. 

The deputy minister said that despite commanding 254 MPs in total between the coalition parties, the bloc is dependent on "other support" to keep it functioning.

Earlier, the PPRP decided to award a political position to a small coalition party, apparently to keep the small parties from leaving the government. 

To prevent the dispute from escalating, PPRP heavyweights have reportedly decided to award a ministerial assistant post to the Palang Thong Thin Thai Party (PTTT). More political posts are expected to be handed to other small parties. 

Suratin Picharn, a list-MP and the leader of the Prachathipatai Mai Party, which is among the small coalition parties, said on Tuesday that the majority of the small parties remained loyal to the PPRP-led coalition. 

The small parties, he said, would try and talk Mr Mongkolkit into changing his mind. Mr Suratin added that it was problematic that not all 19 parties in the government have a designated whip.

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