Prawit quashes reports of PPRP rift

Prawit quashes reports of PPRP rift

Party executive asks Somkid to step down

Somkid Jatusripitak, left, and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, both deputy prime ministers, engage in a light-hearted chat during the first day of the budget bill debate in parliament on Wednesday. The debate took place amid growing tension between Mr Somkid and some MPs in the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, led by Gen Prawit. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Somkid Jatusripitak, left, and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, both deputy prime ministers, engage in a light-hearted chat during the first day of the budget bill debate in parliament on Wednesday. The debate took place amid growing tension between Mr Somkid and some MPs in the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, led by Gen Prawit. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has dismissed reports of a rift in the government after an executive of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) reportedly asked Somkid Jatusripitak to step down as economic team leader.

Gen Prawit referred to a remark by Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, a newly-elected PPRP executive, that Mr Somkid was standing in the way of sprucing up the government's economic team.

He said several capable people wanted to enter the team and chart a new economic policy. However, they were reluctant to step forward because Mr Somkid refuses to budge.

Gen Prawit, who also leads the PPRP, said the remark was strictly a matter of personal opinion.

"Don't expand too much on the remark. It is an internal affair of the PPRP which will be discussed," he said.

Mr Somkid, also a deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, was reported to be one of the founding members of the Sam Mitr ("Three Allies"), a core faction in the ruling party. However, he has consistently denied being a part of the group.

Gen Prawit said Mr Chaiwut mistakenly thought Mr Somkid had suggested that parliament should be dissolved and that he and other MPs feared being out of work. "There's nothing to it and I think Mr Somkid understands this," Gen Prawit said.

Gen Prawit blamed media outlets for exaggerating the reports which drove a wedge between people in the government.

He also declined to speak about reports of a cabinet reshuffle which is expected after the budget bill for the next fiscal year, currently being debated by MPs, clears parliament in September.

The economic team, including Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, is clarifying the bill during its scrutiny in both Houses.

Gen Prawit said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is the best person to explain any cabinet shake-up and the fate of the economic ministers in Mr Somkid's team. Gen Prayut on Tuesday said he gets along fine with the team.


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