Prayut not ruling out big cabinet reshuffle

Prayut not ruling out big cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday did not rule out the possibility of a major cabinet reshuffle after three cabinet ministers were sent to jail and lost their posts as a result.

When asked if only three posts left vacant would be filled or other major changes were to take place, Gen Prayut said he was thinking about it.

He also said the focus would be on the vacant posts and when their replacements were proposed he would decide if they were appropriate or required any further changes.

Three posts that must be filled in the reshuffle are digital economy and society (DES) minister, education minister and deputy transport minister.

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam were found guilty by the Criminal Court on Wednesday of charges related to street protests to oust the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

Gen Prayut said the cabinet would next week endorse people who would assume caretaker roles in the affected ministries pending a reshuffle. He added the shake-up would be made as soon as possible but he was under no pressure to find replacements.

The prime minister said the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, of which Mr Buddhipongse and Mr Nataphol are members, and the Democrat Party, to which Mr Thaworn belongs, would recommend replacements.

When asked about the possibility that the government coalition partners might might seize the opportunity to swap their ministerial quotas, he said the matter had not come up yet.

Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon said yesterday he would leave it to Gen Prayut to decide on the line-up and that he would not nominate anyone.

Gen Prawit also said allocation of cabinet portfolios among the coalition partners remained unchanged amid reports that cabinet posts could be redistributed.

A source in the PPRP said efforts are under way to reallocate the cabinet posts among the PPRP, Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties.

According to the source, it is reported the Bhumjaithai wants to negotiate for more cabinet seats while the Democrats may lose one or two seats.

It was rumoured that Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat of the PPRP wants to swap his post for the deputy transport portfolio.

Another source in the PPRP said that a group of 13 PPRP MPs who are based in the southern region is prepared to lobby for a cabinet seat in the upcoming reshuffle.

Among the PPRP key figures reportedly lobbying for changes in the cabinet line-up include Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow and Deputy Labour Minister Narumon Pinyosinwat.

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