PPRP shake-up could affect cabinet, Somsak admits

PPRP shake-up could affect cabinet, Somsak admits

Somsak: Predicts no defections
Somsak: Predicts no defections

Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) heavy­weight Somsak Thepsutin admitted on Wednesday the upcoming restructuring within the coalition party could lead to a cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Somsak, also the justice minister, was among 18 members of the party's executive committee who quit on Monday to force a new leadership contest and selection of an executive committee within 45 days.

The mass resignation is widely believed to pave the way for Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP chief strategist Prawit Wongsuwon to take the party's helm and push for a "rotation" of cabinet seats among PPRP executives from various factions.

When asked about speculation the upcoming change in the PPRP leadership would affect the cabinet and the coalition government, he said: "That's probable. It's the way the coalition government is formed. Cabinet seats are allocated to parties who must do their best to respond to the people's needs."

According to a PPRP source, the economic team which includes Deputy Prime Somkid Jatusripitak and Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana among others are the targets in the desired cabinet shake-up.

Mr Somsak said the mass resignation of party executives would facilitate the restructuring and strengthening of the PPRP which is considered relatively new to the political scene, despite having emerged as a ruling party.

To become a well-established political party, the PPRP would have to undergo restructuring. He said a good political party needs to be resilient to changes and the party should brace itself for further ones.

"Restructuring doesn't mean the incumbent executives are left out. Those who understand the people and their MPs are accepted by the party.

"They can be re-elected to the board. Their resignation is just to trigger a new executive board election and newcomers are like a better cut diamond," he said.

He said Gen Prawit has strengths and stands a good chance of being chosen as the new party leader while playing down Gen Prawit's ties with the now-dissolved National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The general's suitability has been questioned due to the luxury watch scandal even though he was cleared of wrongdoing by the National Anti Corrup­tion Commission (NACC).

"His strength lies in his ability to present party policies to the government. If we want our party to be accepted, we have to adjust," Mr Somsak said. He said no one was perfect and the members would make the right decisions on the day they elect the new party executives.

It is believed Gen Prawit has the backing of several factions including the Sam Mitr, the Chon Buri group, the Korat group, the group of Bangkok MPs and a group of northern MPs led by Capt Thamanat Prompow. Mr Somsak said his relationship with Mr Somkid, who is close to incumbent party leader Mr Uttama, remained unchanged.

He dismissed as unlikely reports some party members would defect to a new party following the restructuring, saying they would have to wait another three years for the next general election because the Prayut administration would complete its term.

Mr Somsak also called on some party members to stop causing misunderstandings and undermining the party. He insisted party members should take the opportunity to collect views to improve policy platforms.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party leader Sompong Amornvivat yesterday denied speculation about a possible alliance between the PPRP and his party, saying rumours were being used to increase the bargaining power of factions within the coalition parties.

He said the main opposition Pheu Thai Party always placed the nation's interests first and it makes decisions in a transparent manner with input from party members and stake-holders. The party would not betray democratic principles and its supporters by hooking up with the government.

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