Prayut pledges reshuffle by month-end

Prayut pledges reshuffle by month-end

Coalition quotas to stay intact for now

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha assured on Tuesday a cabinet reshuffle would be completed by the end of this month, saying the distribution of ministerial quotas among government coalition parties would remain unchanged for the time being.

He said the cabinet shake-up had been raised with government coalition parties and the issue was expected to be finalised as soon as possible.

The cabinet on Tuesday appointed people to assume caretaker roles in the affected ministries pending a reshuffle which was forced by the removal of Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Nataphol Teepsuwan and Thaworn Senneam from their cabinet posts.

The trio lost their positions 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 Buddhipongse, former digital, economy and society minister, and Mr Nataphol, former education minister, are members of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), while Mr Thaworn, former deputy transport minister, is from the Democrat Party.

On a possible redistribution or swapping of ministerial posts among coalition partners, Gen Prayut said the arrangements remained unchanged for the time being. It also remained to be seen if only the three vacant posts would be filled or major changes would be made to the line-up, he said.

The prime minister also shrugged off reports that small coalition parties would lobby for cabinet seats in the upcoming reshuffle.

Meanwhile, the PPRP executive board resolved that party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwon is to have the final say in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

Deputy leader Wirach Ratanasate said it was agreed that Gen Prawit will be in charge of the changes.

Mr Wirach said the board meeting did not discuss any candidates for the vacant posts and would leave the issue in the hands of Gen Prawit.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome, a key figure in the ruling PPRP, said the two posts left vacant by Mr Buddhipongse and Mr Nataphol would be filled by party members.

"They will come from the party but I can't say for sure if the newcomers will be MPs," he said, responding to speculation outsiders might be brought in.

PPRP spokeswoman Patcharin Sumsiripong said the board has yet to consider action against seven party MPs who abstained from voting in the censure debate.

She said the internal fact-finding inquiry against the group is not yet completed but they all have explained their actions, which were against the party's resolution, to the inquiry panel.

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