Final say on reshuffle rests with PM
Rifts widen in PPRP, Democrat ranks
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed he has the final say when it comes to the cabinet reshuffle, in response to growing speculations of an impending rejig after after three ministers were jailed last week.
Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Nataphol Teepsuwan and Thaworn Senneam lost their posts as Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister, Education Minister and Deputy Transport Minister, respectively, last week as they were among the 26 people convicted by the Criminal Court over their roles in the People's Democratic Reform Committee protests which culminated in the May 2014 coup.
Mr Nataphol and Mr Buddhipongse are members of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), while Mr Thaworn is from the Democrat Party.
Their departure has triggered widespread speculation about a possible redistribution of ministerial quotas among government coalition parties in a major reshuffle, which is causing rifts among the parties' ranks.
On Monday, Gen Prayut said while the coalition parties may propose changes to their cabinet line-ups, the final authority rests with him.
The issue, he said, is being discussed with leaders from the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, whom he has urged to work together for the sake of moving the country forward.
"Leave the issue in my care," Gen Prayut said, before saying he will need some time to analyse the impact of any changes to the ministerial line-up on government functions.
Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit, who is both a deputy prime minister and commerce minister, said the Democrats' quota in the cabinet remains unchanged, adding that each party has their own mechanism to decide which of their members will be nominated to fill the vacant seats.
PM's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, who is also the PPRP secretary-general, said Gen Prayut has given no indications of an impending reshuffle, before declining to comment on rumours that he would succeed Mr Buddhipongse as DES minister.
As PPRP secretary-general, Mr Anucha said, he hasn't been in talks with either Gen Prayut or Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon -- PPRP's leader -- about a reshuffle.
Varawut Silpa-archa, chief strategist of the coalition Chartthaipattana Party and Natural Resources and Environment Minister, said his party has not been approached to discuss the reallocation of cabinet posts.