Uttama, Sontirat, others quit Palang Pracharath

Uttama, Sontirat, others quit Palang Pracharath

Cabinet reshuffle 'to be decided by PM'

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana gestures to Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, with Korbsak Pootrakul in the background, during their press conference announcing they were resigning from the Palang Pracharath Party, at Centara Grand Ladprao Hotel on Thursday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana gestures to Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, with Korbsak Pootrakul in the background, during their press conference announcing they were resigning from the Palang Pracharath Party, at Centara Grand Ladprao Hotel on Thursday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Three cabinet ministers announced their resignation from the Palang Pracharath Party on Thursday, including the finance minister, and with party quotas in play a cabinet reshuffle now seems certain.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education, Science and Innovations Minister Suvit Maesincee said they were leaving the party that leads the government coalition. (continues below)

Uttama Savanayana (centre) leads Korbsak Pootrakul (left), Sontirat Sontijirawong (second right) and Suvit Maesincee to the press conference. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The deputy secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Office Kobsak Pootrakul also resigned his party membership.

Their move follows a leadership change inside the party last month that saw Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon rise to replace Mr Uttama as the new leader, and Anucha Nakasai take over the secretary-general's post from Mr Sontirat.

Gen Prawit was backed by the Sam Mitr faction, which includes Mr Anucha and Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, in sweeping the group led by Mr Uttama out of the party.

All four members who resigned from PPRP are part of the economic team engineered by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Some PPRP members backing Gen Prawit have demanded a cabinet reshuffle now the party has a new leader, but Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has kept them guessing.

The prime minister said during his visit to the Bangkok Post on Wednesday that he would select the most skilled people should he decide on a cabinet reshuffle.

"I will find the best people and we have to give them the chance to work. Unless all goes well, we will have one [a reshuffle]," Gen Prayut said.

The former four PPRP members said they would continue working in their cabinet portfolios. "A decision to reshuffle the cabinet is for the prime minister to make," Mr Uttama told a press conference.

Mr Sontirat said he and his three colleagues left the PPRP with no negative feelings towards the party he and Mr Uttama had formed to support Gen Prayut's climb to the prime ministership after the general election last year.

Gen Prawit said he respected their decision to resign from the party, and admitted they did not tell him in advance of the intentions.

He refused to speculate on a cabinet reshuffle, saying that he left the decision to the prime minister.

Gen Prawit expected political cooperation with them if they decided to set up a new party in the future.

The prime minister declined to comment.


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